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The five most impressive DStv Premiership players this season

The five most impressive DStv Premiership players this season
Ronwen Williams, captain of Mamelodi Sundowns during the DStv Premiership match against Golden Arrows at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on 12 April 2023. (Photo: Darren Stewart / Gallo Images)

After yet another exhilarating — and Mamelodi Sundowns-dominated — DStv Premiership season, we highlight some of the standout performers.

Some took a while to kick on; others grappled with demands at their clubs with relative ease. The performances of others opened opportunities previously closed to them.

These are the players that – in their own individual ways – captured the imaginations of South African soccer fans this season.   

Ronwen Williams (Mamelodi Sundowns)

ronwen williams

Ronwen Williams of Mamelodi Sundowns. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Since signing for Mamelodi Sundowns from their Tshwane neighbours SuperSport United at the beginning of the season, Bafana Bafana custodian Ronwen Williams has been a mainstay in the starting lineup for the serial South African champions.

As they trotted to a sixth successive DStv Premiership title, Williams has been integral. He played in 26 of Masandawana’s 30 league matches. In the process, the 31-year-old rewrote history in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) era.

He kept 18 clean sheets, breaking a long-standing shutout record set by former Orlando Pirates star goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs. The latter managed 17 during the 2009/2010 season.

Most impressive is how the goalminder has adapted to the demands of being a Sundowns player – even with stiff competition from goalkeepers such as the decorated Denis Onyango, as well as Reyaad Pieterse and Kennedy Mweene.

During his maiden season at Chloorkop, Williams has improved as a player. His starting of the Brazilians’ attacking moves has become commonplace and a key part of the team’s play.

These displays should see him at least nominated for the player-of-the-season gong. Winning it will be tougher though. Since the inception of the PSL in 1996, only two goalkeepers have received the honour – Andre Arendse of Santos in 2002, and Kaizer Chiefs’ Itumeleng Khune 10 years ago.

Teboho Mokoena (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Teboho Mokoena

Teboho Mokoena of Mamelodi Sundowns during the CAF Champions League match against Al-Hilal at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on 11 February 2023. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Williams’ Sundowns teammate Teboho Mokoena, who also joined from SuperSport, in January 2022, six months prior to the goalkeeper’s arrival, has had an equally stellar season in his first full campaign for Masandawana.

Though the 26-year-old’s contributions cannot really be quantified like those of Williams or goal poachers such as Peter Shalulile and Cassius Mailula, people who have religiously followed the reigning South African champions this season can testify to Mokoena’s brilliance.

The midfield pivot has been central to both Masandawana’s impressive defensive record and their fluid attacking.

As far as defence is concerned, he could be found nipping at the ankles of opponents like a possessed chihuahua. When he poached the ball, he’d help the team launch one of their lethal counterattacks. 

If the ball ended up in the back of the net through such a sequence, he was not credited with an assist. Nevertheless, his contribution has been immense. When fit, he is one of the first names in the star-studded Sundowns lineup.  

Recently Gavin Hunt threw his weight behind Mokoena for the player-of-the-season gong, saying that even though Williams had had an outstanding debut season at Sundowns, his teammate was more deserving.

“Williams has had a magnificent season, but I just don’t think a goalkeeper should win that award. But I think he has been brilliant,” Hunt said. “Mokoena has been player of the year for me.”

Monnapule Saleng (Orlando Pirates)

Monnapule Saleng

Monnapule Saleng of Orlando Pirates during the Nedbank Cup quarterfinal match against Dondol Stars at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on 15 April 2023. (Photo: Philip Maeta / Gallo Images)

Monnapule Saleng’s contributions this season have Pirates still in hot pursuit of a second-spot finish in the league. They are level on 51 points with SuperSport, who are third by virtue of a marginally inferior goal difference.

Were it not for the fleet-footed Saleng’s displays, the Buccaneers may not be where they are as the season draws to a close. The 25-year-old winger has found the back of the net 10 times from 21 league outings while assisting his teammates six times.

That means the Bafana Bafana attacker has been directly involved in 16 of the 36 goals that the Sea Robbers have managed from their 29 games so far this season. A talismanic haul.

He is also one of just three players to score a hat trick in the Premiership this season, alongside Chiefs’ Caleb Bimenyimana and Marumo Gallants’ Ranga Chivaviro. What sets Saleng apart is that his hat trick came from open play, while the other two forwards were aided by penalties in reaching the milestone.

Saleng played an integral role as his club won their first trophy of the season – the MTN8 – playing three games and scoring as many goals. 

Khanyisa Mayo (Cape Town City)

Khanyisa Mayo

Khanyisa Mayo of Cape Town City FC during the DStv Premiership match against AmaZulu FC at DHL Stadium in Cape Town on 9 April 2023. (Photo: Grant Pitcher / Gallo Images)

The Cape Town City forward – who coincidentally happens to be the son of former Amakhosi defender Patrick Mayo and the older brother of Chippa United’s Khanyisile Mayo – is having the best season of his career to date.

The attacker jointly leads the South African top-flight’s scoring charts, with 12 strikes. He is level with Sundowns’ Shalulile, but has an opportunity to win it outright with his club still one game in arrears for the season.

Owing to his scintillating displays for City this term, the 24-year-old has forced his way into the reckoning for Bafana Bafana.

If his rich vein of form persists into next season, there is no reason he shouldn’t be included in Hugo Broos’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast (which is set for January 2024).

Iqraam Rayners (Stellenbosch)

Iqraam Rayners

Iqraam Rayners of Stellenbosch FC celebrates after scoring a goal during the DStv Premiership match against Mamelodi Sundowns at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on 5 March 2023. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

Stellenbosch striker Iqraam Rayners started his 2022/2023 season at SuperSport, before moving back to the Cape Winelands. He headed in the opposite direction three years ago.

He never quite settled into life inland. Following 13 appearances with no goal for Hunt’s men this campaign, he made the life-changing switch back to Stellies during the mid-season transfer window. It has proven to be an inspired move.

Since returning to Stellenbosch, Rayners has netted nine times in the league. His six goals in the Nedbank Cup also saw the team reach the Nedbank Cup semifinals before being ousted by Sekhukhune United.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the 27-year-old forward. DM

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