The Golden Boot for top goal scorer is the most common stats-based individual end-of-season award, given to the player(s) who end up with the most goals in a league season.
As assists become an accepted measure of individual contributions to a football team’s success, players assisting goals are also becoming more important. To that end, the English Premier League has introduced a Playmaker Of The Year award, given to the player that provides the most assists throughout a league season.
Yet, this award was only introduced in 2018. As usual, we dug through the numbers to look at the assist kings in the PSL this season. From the onset, it is important to note that the definitions of assists may vary depending on data providers & collectors.
What is an assist?
Assists are not as simple to measure as goals. The general definition of an assist is – the final touch/pass/cross leading to the recipient of the ball scoring a goal. That is the simple explanation, and assists can be awarded even if a player had no intention of touching the final ball before the scorer. Things get more complex when a goal is scored without a clear final pass.
For instance, when the intended final pass takes a heavy deflection off an opposition player, and ends up being bundled over the line by another teammate. Data providers and football associations will usually outline some rules as to how to decide “dubious” assists.
Some rules are straightforward – for example, it is generally accepted that there is no assist given for a goal if a defender’s misplaced pass was the last pass to the scorer. Assists are also not normally awarded to players for winning a free-kick or penalty that they then convert themselves (e.g Gabadinho Mhango was fouled for a penalty before scoring from the spot v Black Leopards in December). Some rules are complex – handballs leading to penalties or fouls. Or deflections and rebounds – which can take into consideration the degree of change in ball trajectory etc. The rules for determining an assist are more relaxed when it comes to Fantasy football, compared to official records kept by associations.
In counting 2019/20 PSL assists, we must outline some of the rules we have used.
- Players fouled for a penalty/freekick get an assist only if they don’t take the penalty themselves
- Own goals have no assist awarded
- A poor defender clearance leading to a goal has no assist
- A shot parried by a goalkeeper before the goal is given as an assist
- A shot rebounding off the woodwork before the goal is given as an assist
- A penalty scored after an opposition handball has no assist
We have watched every goal recorded by cameras in the league this season, and even then, not all goals are available. For starters, not all games and goals are televised on SuperSport. Of the 404 goals scored in the PSL this season, we have had access to 375 of them (on TV, club web and social media pages and other data providers). This means 29 goals are unaccounted for in our records, namely Celtic & Arrows (6), Chippa (4), Leopards and Polokwane City (3), Cape Town City, Wits and Highlands Park (2 each) and Baroka (1).
Top 10 Assist Kings
From the 375 goals watched this season, this is the table that emerges for Top 10 Assist providers in the PSL this season, with Lebogang Manyama and Bradley Ralani leading the assist charts.
9 – Samir Nurkovic and Manyama have combined for nine league goals this season, more than any other PSL duo. Manyama has provided 5 assists for Nurkovic & Nurkovic has provided 4 assists for Manyama.
RELATED STORY: The top 15 PSL players this season
By Opta Jabu