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Who is Orlando Pirates' Player of the Season?

11:45 GMT+4 10/05/2018
Musa Nyatama, Orlando Pirates, April 2018
The Buccaneers enjoyed a much-improved campaign under Micho Sredojevic - but who has been their star performer?

With one game left in the current 2017/18 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season, Orlando Pirates are to set to wrap up a campaign which saw them challenge for the league title and qualify for the Caf Champions League.



Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic has been hailed for transforming the Soweto giants into genuine PSL title contenders, who eventually lost out to Mamelodi Sundowns and players such as Musa Nyatama, Justin Shonga, Luvuyo Memela, Innocent Maela and Thembinkosi Lorch have all been impressive for Bucs this season.

Goal runs through Pirates' top three performers in the current season in descending order...


3. INNOCENT MAELA


The Witbank-born full-back has been a revelation for Bucs since returning to the club following a successful loan spell with Thanda Royal Zulu, whom he helped clinch the 2016/17 National First Division (NFD) title as their captain.

The left-footed player had spent most of his career in the second tier of South African football on loan from Bucs after being promoted from the club's development academy a few years ago.

Maela was quick to make his mark at the Soweto giants as he grabbed an assist on his debut which was against Chippa United last August. He then made the left-back position his own, relegating experienced versatile defender Thabo Matlaba to the bench.

His consistent displays saw Maela establish himself as one of Bucs' key defenders as he contributed on both halves of the pitch and he was rewarded with a Bafana Bafana call-up ahead of the Four-Nation tournament in Zambia. 

Maela, who has made 24 league appearances for Bucs, is now expected to be Bafana's first choice left-back at the 2018 Cosafa Cup. 

He contributed assists as the Buccaneers mounted a serious challenge for the league title. The 25-year-old's game-changing ability at left-back has been a key factor for Soweto giants and he is now a valuable player to have in the team for Sredojevic.


2. LUVUYO MEMELA


The 30-year-old player has enjoyed his best season in the top flight having established himself as Pirates' best attacker - flourishing in Micho's 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 formations as one of the front three. 

Memela improved after a slow start to the season having struggling to command a regular place in Bucs' starting line-up, but he fought his way back into the team, and he should be applauded for raising his game.

He contributed immensely in the Buccaneers' PSL title charge and he is the team's top scorer in the league with five goals in 22 league games. The left-footed attacker proved his Big Match Temperament (BMT) as he inspired Pirates to important victories against Gauteng rivals Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs earlier this year.

Blessed with technical skills and pace to eliminate defenders in one-on-one situations, the Ajax Cape Town product is one of the best wingers in the country on his day. Pirates extended Memela's contract midway through the current campaign as a reward for his influential performances for the team this season.

Some have called for Memela's inclusion in the national team squad, and a Bafana call-up is definitely not far off for a player, who has been touted as Pirates' Player of the Season by the majority of his fans.


1. MUSA NYATAMA


The experienced midfielder had a slow start to life at Pirates after joining the Soweto gaints from Bloemfontein Celtic prior to the start of the current campaign. 

However, he has grown in leaps and bounds and has played an important role in helping the team finish second behind current champions Sundowns.

With the Buccaneers having lost their captain and influential central midfielder Oupa 'Ace' Manyisa to Sundowns last July, there were some big shoes to be filled at the club.

Nyatama, 30, had to beat off stiff competition from Issa Sarr, Thamsanqa Sangweni and utility player Abbubaker Mobara to cement his place in the team - making 28 league appearances and netting four goals in the process.

The box-to-box midfielder has picked up six man of the match accolades thus far plus one PSL Player of the Month award for March 2018 and he has not only been Pirates' best player this season, but one of the most outstanding players in the league.

His impact has been big in helping the team control matches which saw the Buccaneers push for the league title until the final stages of the season, and Nyatama is most likely to be among the players, who will be honoured for their outstanding performances at the 2017/18 PSL awards ceremony.