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Race for Absa Premiership’s golden boot heating up

(Photo: Manu Fernandez / Pool via Getty Images)

These men have been crucial in helping further their teams’ respective causes in the Covid-19-disrupted Absa Premiership season. And as much as team glory comes before individual glory, each would love to finish the season as the top scorer.

Since the 2010/11 season, the 15-goal mark in the Absa Premiership has only been breached thrice. By Knowledge Musona in that season, Siyabonga Nomvethe in the following campaign and Mwape Musonda last season.

The current season has as much as five games left for most of the teams that house the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot contenders. There are as many as seven goal poachers with a realistic chance of not only finishing at the summit come end of the season, but breaching the 15-goal mark.

Knox Mutizwa – Golden Arrows (11 goals)

Knox Mutizwa of Golden Arrows during the Absa Premiership match between AmaZulu FC and Golden Arrows at Kings Park Stadium on February 15, 2020 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

The Zimbabwean international has been a key figure for Steve Kompela’s team this season as they continue to push for a top eight finish. Mutizwa has contributed 11 goals to their cause thus far. He has five games to try to add to his tally.

Kermit Erasmus – Cape Town City (11 goals)

Kermit Erasmus of Cape Town City FC during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Cape Town City FC at FNB Stadium on January 12, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

The former Orlando Pirates frontman has proved pivotal for City this season, despite injuries resulting in him missing a few games for the team. With his 11 goals thus far, Erasmus has already surpassed his best goals tally in an Absa Premiership season. His previous best was the 10 goals he netted for Pirates in the 2014/15 season.

Bongi Ntuli – AmaZulu (12 goals)

Bongi Ntuli of Amazulu FC and Innocent Maela of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership match between AmaZulu FC and Orlando Pirates at King Zwelithini Stadium on August 20, 2019 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

Relegation-threatened Usuthu have not had many reasons to celebrate this season. However, their powerful and pacey number nine has given them a glimmer of hope during the Covid-19-disrupted season. Out of the 14 goals scored by the team from KwaZulu-Natal to date, Ntuli has contributed 12. The striker hasn’t scored since resumption, but that is to be expected with his team having played only one game so far.

Peter Shalulile – Highlands Park (13 goals)

Peter Shalulile of Highlands Park FC during the Absa Premiership match between Highlands Park and SuperSport United at Makhulong Stadium on March 08, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

The Namibian international has been pivotal and decisive in the Lions of the North’s onslaught to secure a top eight finish and play in the MTN 8 next season. He raced to 12 goals prior to lockdown, and has already added to his tally after finding the net in spectacular fashion against Mamelodi Sundowns to earn his team a point in their first game post lockdown.

Bradley Grobler – Supersport United (13 goals)

Bradley Grobler of SuperSport United celebrates his goal during the Absa Premiership match between Highlands Park and SuperSport United at Makhulong Stadium on March 08, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Matsatsantsa are not short of talent within their ranks, boasting some of the Absa Premiership’s most exciting players such as Sipho Mbule and Teboho Mokoena. The duo’s creativity in the middle of the park has been complemented exceptionally by Bradley Grobler.

The seasoned campaigner has been the team’s reference point for goals, which has seen him reap the rewards in his most successful season for the club to date.

Samir Nurkovic – Kaizer Chiefs (13 goals)

Samir Nurkovic of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Thulani Hlatshwayo of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Bidvest Wits on August 12, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Muzi Ntombela/Gallo Images/BackpagePix)

Samir Nurkovic is one of the key reasons that Kaizer Chiefs find themselves at the summit of the Absa Premiership log.

He has been extremely reliable for Amakhosi, and has often inspired them to victory when it seemed their backs were against the wall. Case in point, when Chiefs came from behind to beat Polokwane City 3-2 recently. He laid on two assists and scored one.

Gabadinho Mhango – Orlando Pirates (14 goals)

Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates challenged by Cole Alexander of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits at Emirates Airline Park on August 15, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Muzi Ntombela/Gallo Images/BackpagePix)

The Malawian international leads the pack of predators, with three of his fellow marksmen breathing down his neck. He has scored 14 league goals so far, including a hat-trick versus Polokwane City.

Having failed to score in the past six encounters, he will be looking over his shoulder and sweating. He has four games to attempt to fend off the competition and become the first Pirates player to clinch the golden boot since the late Lesley Manyathela in the 2002/03 season.

Expert advice

Collins Mbesuma holds the record for most league goals in a single season, having scored 25 back in 2004/05. The Zambian has also won the accolade twice, another local record. And he had some advice for the contenders recently.

“Football is a team sport, you understand. You can’t think about yourself; you have to think about the team first. I think the strikers like Nurkovic, Mhango… you don’t have to put yourself under pressure,” Mbesuma told KickOff.com.

“First you have to play a game, you can’t score without playing. You have to play a game first and goals will come. First you have to think for the team, then yourself. The time you start thinking about yourself, then you are killing yourself.” DM

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