TWO of the men at the heart of their respective teams’ challenges for the coveted Absa Premiership title, Ian Palmer of Maritzburg United and Atusaye Nyondo of SuperSport United, have been lauded for setting the league alight with some impressive performances during the months of August and September.
Palmer has been named the Absa Premiership Coach of the Month for the August/September period after leading his charges to third spot on the Absa Premiership table. Maritzburg have remained unbeaten during this period and their impressive run has seen the Team of Choice win three and draw four of its first seven Absa Premiership matches. One of those victories included a 2-1 victory over reigning Absa Premiership champions, Orlando Pirates.
SuperSport’s Malawian striker, Nyondo, has been in a rich vein of form with 4 strikes in just six games, just behind the league’s current top scorer, Katlego Mphela, who has scored 5 goals. His eye for goal, aided by his ability to create opportunities for his teammates, prompted the judging panel to award the title of Absa Premiership Player of the Month to the young striker.
Both Palmer and Nyondo walked away with R10 000 each, courtesy of Absa Card, and 4 “Absa Dream bags” filled with football equipment, which they will be able to donate to a school of their choice.
Judges praised Palmer for transforming the Pietermaritzburg outfit into one of the most formidable in the Absa Premiership.
Maritzburg were facing relegation last season before Palmer not only steadied the ship, but lifted them to within striking distance of the pacesetters on the Absa Premiership log. One of the judging panel lauded Palmer for “bringing a fantastic atmosphere to the club” and for “being a father figure to the players”.
“Palmer has also succeeded to strike a balance in the team and this is reflected in the club’s scoring rate of 10 goals and conceding just six in seven games. He has shown respect for fellow coaches and constantly makes good comments in the media,” commented another of the judging panel.
Matsatsantsa came close to completing the “double”, with SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt just missing out on being named Absa Premiership Coach of the Month. He garnered the second highest amount of votes for masterminding the former champions’ blistering start to the Absa Premiership season. Gordon Igesund of Moroka Swallows was also in the running.
It was a two horse race between Nyondo and Mamelodi Sundowns’ striker Mphela in the race for the Absa Premiership Player of the Month, but in the end Nyondo received the honour for his more impressive strike rate. The judging panel noted his crucial brace in SuperSport’s 3-0 win over Black Leopards and his goals against Platinum Stars and Golden Arrows.
“The 20-year old has been an astute signing by Gavin Hunt in the off -season from First Division side, Carrara Kicks. He has single handedly helped the former three times champions to get to the top of the table,” added one of the judges.
Siyabonga Sangweni’s efforts for Orlando Pirates in defence were also noted by the panel and received the third highest amount of votes.
In another new innovation, Absa has decided to appoint former coach and football analyst, Farouk Khan, as convenor of the judges for all Absa Premiership Player and Coach of the Month voting panels. He has been appointed for the entire Absa Premiership season. Khan gave his insights during the voting session and was impressed by the quality of the candidates.
“I think this has been a great exercise to determine the overall quality and depth of South African football. I feel honoured to have been selected by Absa to be part of the process and I am delighted to make a contribution to the biggest and most lucrative league on the African continent,” added Khan.
Absa Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, Happy Ntshingila, congratulated all the winners. “This has been a magnificent start to the Absa Premiership season where we have seen the lead at the top change hands on a number of occasions. Our winners have had to be at their very best as the quality of football in the Absa Premiership has been of the highest order. Well done to all.”
“It’s great to see the commitment from players and coaches to be the best. Well done Atusaye and Ian for showing this commitment and going out there and doing your best,” Majavu said.