Following the end of the 2019-20 season, FARPost singles out players whose form was heavily affected by the football break that the league had to take due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The League resumed in August and concluded this month.
1. GABADINHO MHANGO
The Chiweta-born, Malawi striker was one of the most lethal strikers in the PSL this past season, sharing the Lesley Manyathela golden boot with Peter Shalulile of Highlands Park, with both players on 16 goals. Mhango was on fire for the better part of the season.
From January to March Mhango was a man on a mission with virtually no defence in the league able to deal with him up front. He scored 8 goals in 9 games before the season was paused.
Sometimes when form is disrupted players struggle to pick up where they left off and the 27-year-old was a big victim of this phenomenon. The Malawian international struggled to pick up form after the resumption only able to score just two goals in the last 7 games including a goal against Stellenbosch on match day 30. Mhango played 29 games in all competitions for ‘The Buccaneers’ scoring 17 goals all season, a highest ever scoring season for him.
2. DANIEL AKPEYI
Kaizer Chiefs broke a record by being the first team in the history of the Absa Premiership to maintain top spot for over a year, most of this is due to the heroics of Nigerian goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi who kept clean sheet after clean sheet in goal for most of the season.
Akpeyi kept 5 clean sheets in 8 games before the break, against clubs like Amazulu, Golden Arrows, Cape Town City and Highlands Park, but most notably his most memorable clean sheet came against Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates at Soccer City where Chiefs came out with a 1-0 victory thanks to a lovely strike by forward Lebogang Manyama. In that game Akpeyi was unbeatable making several one on one saves to deny players like Vincent Pule and Thembinkosi Lorch from point blank range to maintain Chiefs’ grip at the top of the table towards the forced break.
After the season resumed in August the Nigerian international’s reputation of keeping clean sheets was literally tarnished with Chiefs not able to keep a single clean sheet in the first 6 games. Chiefs conceded 9 goals in 6 games with Akpeyi in goal. What made things worse was the fact that those goals came against some of the teams that weren’t in the top 8 of the division – the likes of Polokwane City, Bloemfontein Celtic and AmaZulu.
To make matters worse, Akpeyi missed the last two games of the season due to injury.
3. DEON HOTTO
The Namibian international winger is one of the players that are known in the Premier division for their eye for a cross and a pass in the final third of the field. Hotto started the season like a house on fire scoring and assisting goals in most of the games at the beginning of the season.
In the 11 games played before the forced Covid-19 break the winger bagged goals against the likes of Baroka and Stellenbosch guiding Wits to key victories, even in terms of assists the 28-year-old was a go-to-man.
When the league resumed the winger was either used as a substitute or was usually subbed off in the second half. Hotto finished the season with 6 goals and 5 assists in 25 appearances in the league.
4. LEBOGANG MANYAMA
Probably the driving force behind the resurgence of Kaizer Chiefs this past season with guys like Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro relying on his excellent service to score the goals.
Most will remember that strike from outside the box against rivals Orlando Pirates in the Soweto Derby that guided Chiefs to a 1-0 victory.
In the last lap of the season Manyama barely had any impact for Amakhosi. In the 6 games that he played he had no assist nor any goals. In the 6 starts he completed four games against Mamelodi Sundowns, Baroka, Polokwane City and Bidvest Wits and he was substituted against Bloemfontein Celtic and Chippa United.
In fact Manyama’s drop in form can be mentioned amongst the major reasons why Chiefs dropped form in the last lap of the season because the goalscorers relied on his final ball. The 29-year-old played 27 games overall for Amakhosi scoring 6 goals and assisting a further 9 in the 2019-20 season.
5. DANIEL CARDOSO
FARPost congratulates the central defender for being one of the players to have played every minute of the 2019-20 Absa Premiership. Cardoso was an ever present in the Chiefs back four.
From January to March Chiefs kept 5 clean sheets in 8 games with Cardoso not only contributing in defence but in attack with his aerial threat and his abilities to take penalties. In fact his penalties were a major part of Chiefs winning some of the games.
Chiefs’ fortunes in defence took a major turn around in the last 8 games of the season conceding 10 goals, suddenly Cardoso and company were always caught napping. The game at Ellis Park where Chiefs lost 3-1 against Bloemfontein Celtic is one to note because Cardoso was always caught out of position. The panalty miss against Polokwane City further dented his confidence as he didn’t usually miss penalties and was always ‘Mr reliable’.
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By Prince Sobayeni