Goal takes a look at the three defenders who were outstanding and consistent throughout the 2017/18 season
Too many PSL defenders rose to the ocassion this season and produced a series of good performances, but very few were consistent enough throughout the campaign.
At some point this season, football fans saw over 10 draws in less than a week of all matches played, and while the blame was solely be put on the strikers, defenders were not lauded for doing their job.
Goal picks three defenders who were head and shoulders above the rest this term.
3. INNOCENT MAELA
Not everyone knew who Maela was when Orlando Pirates recalled him from his loan spell with the now defunct Thanda Royal Zulu at the start of the campaign, but the club knew what he could offer on the left-hand side of the pitch.
He was then handed his debut by coach Micho Sredojevic soon after the start of the campaign, and since getting his big break, Maela has never looked back.
The left-footed player owned the left-back position, forcing Thabo Matlaba to be used sparingly and in a more offensive role whenever the coach gave him a run.
Maela doesn’t only reads the game well and time his tackles, but he’s also a good passer of the ball. He’s got pace and his attacking prowess down the left hand side makes him of the best defenders in the league.
He featured 26 times for the Sea Robbers this season, 24 of those in the league, and provided four assists. He’s an important player both defensively and offensively for Bucs.
2. SIYANDA XULU
Xulu’s future looked bleak when he left Kaizer Chiefs for Maritzburg United in 2017, and while the majority of fans wanted him to stay at the Soweto giants and fight for his place, he took a brave decision to move to a relatively smaller club to save his career.
He’s not doubt one of the most experienced defenders in the league despite his age, and this is what the Team of Choice needed in order to become a force to be reckon with in South Africa.
Xulu was always there when Maritzburg needed his services the most this season, making a whopping 29 appearances in the league and scoring two goals.
In total, Xulu has featured in 37 games this season, and that number could soon be 38 as United are in action against Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday evening.
His partnership with veteran defender Bevan Fransman made it difficult for opposition to penetrate through the Maritzburg defence. The team conceded 23 goals in the league all season.
Xulu showed great leadership skills and never wanted to steal the limelight when he first got into the team. He let his feet do the talking for him, and it is for that reason Stuart Baxter saw the need to include him in his preliminary squad for the 2018 Cosafa Cup tournament.
1. DANIEL CARDOSO
If anyone said Cardoso would be a regular at the beginning of the season, then very few would have believed, especially because Kaizer Chiefs had just bought Teenage Hadebe from Chicken Inn.
However, the 29-year-old grabbed the chance presented to him by former coach Steve Komphela with both hands, and today, one cannot imagine the Amakhosi defence without Cardoso.
He has taken over from Erick Mathoho as the club’s most consistent and disciplined centre-back, playing all 30 league games this term. Cardoso managed 37 appearances in all competitions.
Apart from marshalling his defence well, Cardoso is a communicator and he made some match winning tackles throughout the season.
He rose above the injuries that made him an average player in the past to become one of the top centre-backs in the country by far.
Cardoso’s strength and aerial ability helped Chiefs tick, and what makes him a strong contender is that he came from nowhere to overtake some of the highly-rated centre-backs in the country within a short period of time.