Bonginkosi Excellent Ntuli and his goal contribution percentage for his team, AmaZulu, has been one of the leading stories from the 2019/20 PSL season.
With six games to play until the end of the regular season, Usuthu are at the lower end of the table, in 15th, tied on 23 points with three other sides.
The 29-year old striker has been, uhm, excellent all season, scoring 85% of their league goals this term (12 out of 14). And while Ntuli has made the headlines, the fact that AmaZulu are also the lowest scoring team may have gone unnoticed. His goal-scoring prowess shouldn’t mask AmaZulu’s goal-scoring problem.
0,58 – AmaZulu have averaged 0,58 goals per game (gpg) this season (14 in 24), the lowest gpg ratio of all PSL sides.
The season is yet to be concluded, but it must be a worry that this gpg ratio is the third lowest of all time in the PSL era. AmaZulu’s 2019/20 side may end up as one of the Bottom 10, or even Bottom 5 lowest scoring sides in PSL history.
Remember, almost 400 different sides have taken part in the league since 1996/97 (i.e counting AmaZulu 1996/97, Bush Bucks 1996/97 all the way to AmaZulu 2019/20, Baroka 2019/20 etc as different sides).
“There’s still a big chance for us as a team to come out of the bottom. I do believe in the guys and if we work together as one the team can survive,” – Bongi Ntuli, January 20015.
This was Ntuli’s rallying cry when he joined AmaZulu on loan from Sundowns in January 2015. The side he joined had won just one game by January of that season, picking up a measly nine points. After Ntuli joined, AmaZulu won 5 of 14 games, and he bagged six of their 18 goals, including some crucial ones. He scored in a 2-0 win over Polokwane City in April, as the team climbed off the foot of the table for the first time since September.
Ntuli’s second half brace in the penultimate game of the season also gave his team a lifeline – they only needed to win their final game v Maritzburg to stay up. With the clock approaching 90 minutes in that final game (score 1-1), AmaZulu needed one goal to survive relegation. Chasing that all-important goal left them exposed at the back, and 10-man Maritzburg scored a last minute winner on the counter attack. Ntuli ended the season as AmaZulu’s joint-top scorer (6 in 12 league games), even though he only joined the club in January. His ratio of a goal every other game is similar to what he has this season (12 in 24 matches).
The rallying cry he made in 2015 could easily have been made in 2017 and also 2019. In the 2017/18 season, he was involved in another relegation battle and ended as Platinum Stars’ top scorer (5 goals). His solo goal in the final match of the season (1-0 win over Bidvest Wits) at least ensured Platinum Stars had sufficient points to overtake Ajax’s recalculated points total and get into the playoffs. They didn’t win a game in the playoffs and were subsequently relegated.
Last season, he was AmaZulu’s top scorer again, with 8 league goals. In 2020, he is AmaZulu’s top scorer yet again but he’ll be hoping that this time, his goals are enough to secure top-flight status. That he consistently scores for teams fighting relegation, where the supply of chances may not be as much as top level sides, is more remarkable.
However, one thing that is new is the percentage of goals he has contributed for the team. A player scoring 50% of his team’s goals is a rare find. The likes of Wilfred Mugeyi (45% of Bush Bucks’ goals in 1996/7, Lesley Manyathela (44% in 2002/03) and Collins Mbesuma (45% in 2004/05) hover between 40 and 50%.
At the other end of the table, Jackie Ledwaba, the only player in PSL history to win the Golden Boot and be relegated in the same season, also scored 47% of his side’s goals. But 85%?
1 – Only one player in the last decade has scored at least 50% of his team’s goals over a full league season (Mwape Musonda scored 53% of Black Leopards’ goals in 2018/19).
100 goal milestone
Ntuli currently has 53 league goals in his PSL career (Source: Transfermarkt). If there are any active players poised to reach 100 top-flight goals before the end of their PSL careers, he could be considered as one of the candidates.
He is currently the league’s second top scorer under the age of 30 (behind Khama Billiat), and may still have a minimum four or five years at the highest-level. Should he remain the main centre-forward and injury-free for his final years, he could enter that exclusive 100-goal club with names like Collins Mbesuma and Daniel Mudau. That club also includes Mabhuti Khenyeza and Siyabonga Nomvethe, two players who previously mentored him at Usuthu. Nomvethe himself had scored less league goals locally (48) than Ntuli at the same age (although Bhele scored plenty more overseas). All Ntuli needs to do is to continue scoring, and an average of 10 goals a season for the next 5 seasons could get him there.
Other ”one-man teams”
Ntuli is not the only player that can be classified as a one-man band. Last season Musonda was the go-to man for Black Leopards, netting more than half his team’s goals. Ntuli’s high percentage contribution to his team’s goals coincides with a season where a few other teams also have high proportion players.
4 – Indeed, four of the Top 10 goal contributors (by goal ratio) over the past decade come from the 2019/20 season.
By Opta Jabu