JOHANNESBURG – As many predicted, Cape Town City captain and striker Lebogang Manyama walked away with the biggest individual accolade at the PSL Awards on Monday night when he was crowned the 2016/17 Footballer of the Season.
Boasting an impressive 29 (out of 30) Absa Premiership matches for City, who were surprise title contenders and finished in third place behind winners Bidvest Wits and runners-up Mamelodi Sundowns, Manyama scored 13 goals and also claimed the Golden Boot at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Although the competition was stiff – defender Thulani Hlatshwayo of Wits and the Brazilians’ strongman, Hlompho Kekana, were nominated alongside the Bafana forward – it would have been a shock had Manyama not won the biggest prize on the night, having been a star performer to help City not only finish in the top three, but also win the Telkom Knockout in December.
Manyama’s peers also felt he’d had an unbelievable year and voted him the Players’ Player of the Season, meaning he’d won in each category he was nominated in, with the exception of the Telkom Knockout.
There, his City teammate Aubrey Ngoma, also the winner of the Premiership Midfielder of the Season, received the Player of the Tournament gong.
A side that enjoyed a night just as memorable were champions Wits, whose coach Gavin Hunt was voted the Coach of the Season for helping the Clever Boys end an almost century-long drought by winning their first ever championship.
With that achievement, Hunt also joined an elite club of coaches who have won the league four times in the PSL, alongside Gordon Igesund and the late Ted Dumitru.
It was also the fifth time Hunt, who turns 53 on Tuesday, accepted the Coach of the Season award in the Premier League era.
Adding to the individual awards at Wits were goalkeeper Darren Keet and captain Hlatshwayo for the Goalkeeper and Defender of the Season awards respectively.
And, perhaps controversially so, young Phakamani Mahlambi walked away with the Young Player of the Season award, even though there has been a public outcry that he perhaps did not do enough to warrant him being nominated in the first place.
Keet and Hlatshwayo, however, were the mainstays of the Wits team in their race for the championship.
They were not necessarily ever present, Keet managing 10 clean sheets in 22 matches, while ‘Tyson’ featured in 24 league matches and scored three crucial goals.
Keet was nominated alongside Sundowns’ Denis Onyango and Shu-Aib Walters of City, while Hlatshwayo went up against teammate Sifiso Hlanti and Ramahlwe Mphahlele, who enjoyed a stellar debut season at Kaizer Chiefs and won the club’s Player of the Year award, but disappointedly couldn’t help Amakhosi to win any silverware for a second successive season.
PSL Awards Winners
Footballer of the Season: Lebogang Manyama (Cape Town City)
Coach of the Season: Gavin Hunt (Wits)
Goalkeeper of the Season: Darren Keet (Wits)
Defender of the Season: Thulani Hlatshwayo (Wits)
Midfielder of the Season: Aubrey Ngoma (Cape Town City)
Golden Boot: Lebogang Manyama (13 goals, Cape Town City)
Young Player of the Season: Phakamani Mahlambi (Wits)
Goal of the Season: Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs vs SuperSport United)
Telkom Knockout Player of the Tournament: Aubrey Ngoma (Cape Town City)
Nedbank Cup Most Promising Player: Nduduzo Sibiya (Golden Arrows)
Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament: Abbubaker Mobara (Orlando Pirates)
MTN8 Player of the Tournament: Daine Klate (Wits)
Referee of the Season: Phelelani Ndaba
Assistant Referee of the Season: Luvoyo Pupuma
Players’ Player of the Season: Lebogang Manyama (Cape Town City)