Another Premier Soccer League (PSL) season was decided on fine margins and defenders certainly played an immense role in deciding the direction of the title.
While strikers win matches, defenders have the potential to win league's, and in Mamelodi Sundowns' case, that was primarily the reason for glory.
Meanwhile, the PSL recently revealed the nominees for the Defender of the Season award with the winner set to be announced at a glitzy ceremony on Sunday, and Goal breaks down the contributions of all three candidates
The full-back was part of a Bidvest Wits team which started the season like a house on fire but eventually dwindled into mere smoke by the end of the season.
However, Hlanti made a healthy contribution as he was part of a Wits back-four which not only finished third on the log but qualified for the Caf Confederation Cup.
Hlanti missed just one league game all season and was an ever-present figure in a defence which conceded just 29 goals.
Aside from his defensive responsibilities, the 29-year-old also managed one goal and provided two assists, earning him regular call-ups to the South Africa national team
A mainstay in Sundowns’ successful defence of their title.
Despite being 32, Nascimento played in 25 league games and was an integral part of the league’s joint top best defence.
Sundowns conceded just 24 goals, the same as rivals Orlando Pirates.
Although Nascimento was immense at the heart of the defence thanks to his reading of the game which saw him pick up just two yellow cards all season, his tenacity to move forward from set pieces was certainly something to behold.
The Brazilian bagged four goals during the campaign
Lastly, the Bafana Bafana international will undoubtedly be pleased with his campaign.
He played a big role in seeing Cape Town City earn a top four position for his defensive qualities and he relished wearing the captain’s armband.
The 30-year-old featured regularly, playing 27 times this season for the Citizens as he built on last season’s exploits and scored one goal which came in a 3-2 win over Maritzburg United earlier in the season.
VERDICT: Nascimento deserves PSL Defender of the Season award
Guiding a team to a ninth PSL title is no mean feat and Nascimento exuded professionalism and elegance throughout.
He was the epitome of Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane’s ‘play from the back’ philosophy and often brought a sense of calm to the back four.
Also at his age, many would have expected him to struggle with the pace of the game, but Nascimento’s ability to read the play was second to none.