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Nominated in four categories, Orlando Pirates defender Siyabonga Sangweni departed the Premier Soccer League’s awards dinner empty-handed on Sunday, and his coach Augusto Palacios felt an injustice had taken place.
Sangweni could be forgiven if he felt more than just a degree of letdown as he watched the other Siyabonga, Nomvethe, of Moroka Swallows, walking up to the stage no fewer than four times to clinch all the big awards, including the Footballer of the Year that many felt the Pirates man would win.
“I’m extremely disappointed that Sangweni did not win the Footballer of the Year,” Palacios said. “I’m not saying Nomvethe does not deserve it, but if you look at the criteria, Sangweni should have won on merit.
“He was an important player throughout the season for both club and the national team. He scored crucial goals from central defence – seven in all competitions – and that’s a great effort. If you look at his discipline, I would say at least he should have been 50/50 with Nomvethe.”
The footballer of the season is always a source of controversy, with almost all its winners since its inception five years ago triggering a lot of debate. It is voted for by all Premiership coaches and they supposedly have to take into consideration the players’ contribution in all PSL competitions when making their mark.
Yet Nomvethe triumphed even though his team, Swallows, did not take part in the MTN8 – won by Pirates – and were knocked out on the second round of the Telkom Knockout, also clinched by the Buccaneers, and first round of the Nedbank Cup.
Sangweni had been a nominee for Player of the Tournament in both the MTN8 and the Knockout, but was pipped by his teammates Oupa Manyisa and Benni McCarthy respectively.
That left him to vie for two other awards – the Footballer of the Year and Absa Premiership Player of the Year – against Nomvethe, and the Bafana defender lost out again, sparking a furious response from Pirates fans in cyberspace.
“I don’t dispute that Nomvethe had a great season,” Palacios continued. “But Sangweni, in only his first season with Pirates, made a huge impact. His effort should have been recognised.”
Palacios, meanwhile, is still waiting to hear from Pirates owner Irvin Khoza if he is to continue as head coach in the new season. “We haven’t had a meeting because the chairman (Khoza) has been very busy. I’m still waiting for his call and I’m not going to put him under pressure to make a decision. I have continued to work in the development structures. But I’m sure if there’s any news he’ll tell me first.” – The Star