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PSL Awards – The Big Winners

The latest edition of the PSL awards was held on Sunday night, with various players and coaches recognized for their performances this season.

Teboho Mokoena

The latest edition of the PSL awards was held on Sunday night, with various players and coaches recognized for their performances this season. Champions Sundowns took home several individual accolades, including Goalkeeper, Coach, Young Player, Midfielder, and Footballer awards, a tribute to their record-laden season. Ironically, the three finalists for the Footballer of the Season awards each ended up with at least one award, and we take a look at the numbers behind their campaigns.

Footballer of the Season: Teboho Mokoena

The case for Teboho Mokoena being the Footballer of the Season is straightforward – Sundowns were runaway champions and he was the engine in that machine that cruised to the title. The case against him would lead with the number of his goal involvements, but as a deep midfielder, he won’t get too many of those. Instead, he helped his team build and distribute from deep. For a team that averages 60%+ possession with the ball, it could be said that the team’s success and/or failure hinges on how he carries out his role.

In the end, no player attempted more passes all season, and no player completed more passes. His completed passes were more than any other player’s successful passes. Succeeding in 9 of every 10 attempts, he ensured that Downs could consistently retain the ball and be in control of most of their matches.

His radar also shows how he leads the league in passes & short passes (key for a possession-based team), but it’s more a reference to his and Sundowns’ style of play. Think of many passes, a few long passes, a short average pass length, and many forward passes.

Goalkeeper of the Season: Ronwen Williams

2022/23 was a record-setting season for Ronwen Williams, whose efforts helped Sundowns to yet another title. In the end, he kept 18 clean sheets, setting a new PSL record for a keeper. He conceded just 10 goals (Sundowns as a team conceded 13) from an Expected Total of 17, suggesting he prevented seven goals from going past him. This places him second in the league, behind only Salim Magoola. Goals Prevented is calculated by subtracting the number of goals that a goalkeeper has conceded from the number of goals a keeper would be expected to concede based on the quality of shots he faced.

Williams does not top the league for saves (he’s not even in the top 5), but a large factor here is that he hardly has many saves to make. He doesn’t face too many shots as you’d expect of a Sundowns keeper, but neither does he concede too many goals. His playmaking abilities have been prominent this season, however – more than 1000 passes is impressive for a keeper.

For a team averaging 60%+ possession, he’s had an important role to play like other players in that spine, and he has done it well. His touch map shows his importance in the buildup, even creeping up close to the halfway line.

Players Player of the Season: Monnapule Saleng

Monnapule Saleng was the other Big Winner on Sunday night, taking home the Footballer of the Season award. He’s had a stellar campaign, and been a livewire for Orlando Pirates throughout. For a side that traditionally struggles for goals, his numbers have been impressive. In domestic competitions, no player has contributed to more goals than his 26, with 15 goals and 11 assists across all competitions. He’s the only player to reach double digits for both.

His league radar shows how he was one of the best unlockers in the division, in addition to being one of the best outlets. To be the best at one is already impressive, two is special. He was the league leader in Expected Assists, creating high quality chances for his teammates when not busy finishing off his own. His overall play saw him high up in terms of forward passes, touches in the box & passes into the penalty area.

At the end of attacks, he led Orlando Pirates for shots taken, proving to be a key threat for his side, albeit from a wide position. But taking many shots is one thing, taking quality shots is another. The shot map (until Matchday 28) shows his goals in red and non-goal shots in white, with more details highlighting a shot profile that saw nearly half his shots find the target.

The only concern would be that he’s scoring many goals with a huge overperformance of expected goals. Of the top 30 players in xG this season, he’s second for xG overperformance, behind only Godspower Ighodaro (+4). That and the fact that he will be a targeted man could see his goal numbers drop next season. But for now, he should enjoy the champagne.

Congratulations to all the winners!!

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