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SA SOCCER NEWS
Best newcomer to the PSL 17/06/04
SASoccer365 journalist Anthony McLennan takes a look at best of the young players / newcomers to the PSL who made their mark on the local scene during the 2003/04 season.

We have not considered Chiefs hard man Tenashe Nengomashe in this analysis as we believe that the Zimbabwean has had such an excellent season he would certainly walk away with the Young Player of the Season award.

Nengomashe has such a fantastic 2003/04 campaign that he stands a good chance of winning the overall Player of the Season award, so we have decided rather to look at the other young players in the league who have stood out.

Youngsters such as Joseph Makhanya and Tyren Arendse were also not considered as they have already established themselves in the PSL for a number of seasons.

Junior Khanye (turns 19 on June 18)

The youngster came into the side in the absence of Jabu Pule and after a number of fine performances the Amakhosi faithful were able to put 'Shuffles' latest misdemeanors in the back of their minds as the latest ball-whizz from Daveyton entertained them with his dazzling skills and unique running style.

Despite his young age, Khanye never looked out of place on the big stage as he oozed confidence with every game he played.

As can be expected from someone so young, he was sometimes guilty of over-elaboration and wrong decision making, but with coach Ted Dumitru and the rest of the Chiefs technical staff behind him, Khanye looks set for a very exciting future.

Lebohang Mokoena (17)

Burst onto the scene late in the season and after some outstanding games for the Buccaneers, one has to wonder why he was not brought into the side earlier, especially with the shortage of goal-scoring forwards at the club.

Like Khanye, he possesses incredible pace and oozes confidence, which was clear to see in the Soweto derby when he ran the experienced Chiefs defence ragged all afternoon and helped to set up Joseph Makhanya's winning goal.

Bucs fans would love to have seen him in tandem with the late great Lesley Manyathela, as they would surely have made a wonderful combination - it is now up to the Pirates technical staff to find a target man to partner Mokoena, as he definitely seems set for a long and successful career with Pirates, providing he is not sold to an overseas club.

Lungisani Ndlela (23)

Although already 23, this was Ndlela's first full season in top flight football, and the lanky striker rose above all expectations, not only securing a fairly regular starting place at Swallows amoungst stiff competition from a number of strikers, but scoring vital goals as well.

Although his number one asset will always be his aerial power, Ndlela showed that he has plenty of skill as well and also has the ability to bring his team-mates into the game by using his large frame to hold up the ball.

The Jo'burg-born player, who scored nine PSL goals, could well challenge for a Bafana place in the future if he continues with his rise to the top, and he could end up filling the mantle of the national team's target-man, which was once occupied by Phil Masinga.


Gert Schalkwyk (22)

The young Wits playmaker had a great season for the Clever Boys and his talents were rewarded with interest from Kaizer Chiefs and he looks set to join Amakhosi for next season.

Schalkwyk's game is based largely around his excellent vision and passing ability and he also possesses plenty of skill, which should please the Amakhosi fans if indeed he does don the famous gold jersey next season.

Edward Malinga (21)

The former Maritzburg City defender became the first outfield player to earn a cap for Bafana Bafana while still playing in the First Division and he went on to sign with the Buccaneers after this.

Has not had altogether easy transition into top flight football as Bucs struggled defensively at times, but he has shown that he certainly has what it takes to play at the top level.

Similar to his former Maritzburg City team-mate Mbulelo Mabizela in that he is very comfortable on the ball and has good passing ability.

Not the final product yet, but definitely one for the future.
 
Marawaan Bantam (26)

Despite already being 26-years-old, this was Bantam's first season in the PSL. The Santos number 7 started the season like a house on fire, scoring on a regular basis, including goals against Sundowns and Chiefs.

He was not consistent throughout the whole season, but when at the top of his game, Bantam was a pleasure to watch as he brought with him the type of creativity and vision that is normally reserved for Sunday games in the local park.

Apart from his play-making ability, Bantam's other main strength is his ability to arrive in the box at the right time and place to score vital goals, in the same way that Bennedict Vilakazi does for Orlando Pirates.

It's just a pity that he never started his professional career earlier - most players his age have already being playing professional soccer for eight or so years.

Tsweu Mokoro  (22)

The Sasolburg-born midfielder really burst onto the local scene at the end of the season, impressing all with his ability to take on and beat defenders and score goals.

There is a shortage of natural left-sided midfielders in the country and if Mokoro continues his progress under the eye of the knowledgeable Pitso Mosimane, he will certainly go a long way in the game.

Other players we feel also deserve a mention:

Striker Surprise Moriri of Silver Stars, midfield maestro Joseph Mthombeni of Sundowns, defensive hard-man Siboniso Gaxa of SuperSport, Wits and Bafana Bafana star Benson Mhlongo and Shane Poggenpoel of Ajax Cape Town.

Mail with your choice of 'Best new-comer to the PSL', or you can vote for the player of your choice on the SASoccer365 poll.

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