The 2016/2017 campaign has undoubtedly been one to remember for Mamelodi Sundowns.
From conquering Africa and earning the right to represent the continent at the Fifa Club World Cup, to falling at the last hurdle in their defence of the Premier Soccer League crown, it has been a memorable season.
Despite the challenges which Sundowns experienced throughout their campaign, they have fought tooth and nail and their accomplishments will forever be respected.
Although, the gruelling season fixture schedule led to the Brazilians suffering numerous injuries at crucial times during the season, it allowed for some of the lesser known players to make a name for themselves.
Players such as Thapelo Morena and Motjeka Madisha have been some of Sundowns’ shining lights. Most notably, Madisha stepped up to the plate at a time when Sundowns were in dire need of a centre-back and he has made the position his own with impressive displays week in and week out.
Others who also deserve a mention for their impressive contributions are Khama Billiat and Denis Onyango. If an assessment had to be made at the end of 2016, Billiat would have been a shoo-in for Player of the Season, but since the turn of the year his form has been hampered by injuries and although, he remains the club’s top scorer, the Zimbabwean has struggled to rediscover his form.
On the other hand, Onyango has been instrumental in Sundowns’ revival this season, but after missing out on large portions of the campaign through injury, he too just misses out.
Now, who is Sundowns' Player of the Season?
3. Themba Zwane
The winger has been an integral part of Mosimane’s squad, having made 25 appearances in the league and is the second highest scorer at the club behind Billiat this season.
However, it should also be noted that that the 27-year-old was roped into the squad as an interim replacement for Keagan Dolly following his departure to Montpellier, but he has certainly stepped up his game, filling the void adequately.
Over the course of the season, Zwane has shown maturity and has been the conductor of the Sundowns’ orchestra. The attacker’s creative flair and confidence on the ball has even seen him likened to another Sundowns’ star in Teko Modise.
Despite Zwane being utilised on the wing, he has shown that he can play as a traditional number 10 as well, and Mosimane may be tempted to give him the role at the start of next season.
2. Percy Tau
The young attacker has been one of the league’s standout players and could possibly be in with a shout at winning the PSL Player of the Season award.
Despite his inexperience at the highest level, coach Mosimane has showed faith in his ability and has stood by him through testing times.
A statistic which further iterates Mosimane’s confidence in him is that he has made more league appearances than any other Sundowns’ player this season. The 22-year-old has also grabbed himself seven goals in the process and is the joint-second top scorer at the club alongside Zwane.
Tau’s performances have also seen him earn a Bafana Bafana call up which he accepted with open arms when he opened his senior national team account in March.
He is definitely one of the players to lookout for in seasons to come and had it not been for a few dry spells during the campaign, he would have been our pick as the club's Player of the Season.
1. Hlompho Kekana
Lastly, the Sundowns captain tops our list for Player of the Season. Kekana has been one of Sundowns’ most consistent performers this season seasons, but what stands out most from this campaign has been his attacking contributions to the African champions.
After being rewarded with the captain’s armband at the beginning of the campaign, Kekana has grown from strength to strength, displaying first class leadership skills.
It should also be noted that the midfield general has revelled in his new-found freedom due to his midfield partner Tiyani Mabunda being played in a more defensive role.
Nevertheless, Kekana continues to mature like a fine wine and on top of his stellar performances, he has tallied up five goals in 25 appearances for the club and it should be noted that most of them came in crucial games.
With Sundowns’ still competing on the continental stage, Kekana will be expected to continue marshalling his team and steer the Tshwane giants back to the promise land.