Sundowns’ Zwane‚ Chiefs’ Nurkovic in line for first football journalists’ player of the season award

In many countries‚ the award of Footballer of the Season by the football journalists association is much sought-after and prestigious.

In South Africa‚ the fledgling SA Football Journalists’ Association (Safja) – formed in May and which has grown in four months from just over 20 to its current 108 members – will hope its men’s footballer award will become as recognised.

The journalists association has announced the five nominees for its inaugural‚ Hollywoodbets Safja 2019-20 Men’s Footballer of the Season.

They are: Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Peter Shalulile (Highlands Park)‚ Lebogang Manyama (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Samir Nurkovic (Kaizer Chiefs).

The winner will be announced in an online function on Tuesday.

“The Safja 2019-20 Men’s Footballer of the Season winner announcement follows shortly after Safja’s historic first honouring of a South African Women’s Footballer of the Season in South Africa‚” the association said in a statement released on Saturday.

“Safja announced ex-Mamelodi Sundowns and current Dinamo-BSUPC (Belarus) forward Rhoda Mulaudzi as the inaugural Safja 2019-20 Women’s Footballer of the Year in an online function on September 1. The Banyana star received a trophy and R10‚000 in prizemoney.

“The winner of Safja’s men’s award will receive a trophy‚ a photo collage of their 2019-20 season‚ and media training for an amateur club of their choice.

“The five nominees were voted on by Safja’s executive committee and four TV football commentators who are members of the association – Mark Gleeson‚ Kevan Evans‚ Duane Dell’Oca and Thabiso Tema. The members of the 108-strong Safja voted for the winner.”

Safja chairman Velile Mnyandu was quoted as saying: “After having a very successful inaugural Hollywoodbets Safja Women’s Footballer of the Season‚ now to follow up with the Safja Men’s Footballer of the Season is hugely important for our more-than 100 members‚ because we cover football from all different areas‚ amateur and professional.

“And to come up with an excellent player from the season is something that we don’t take for granted. But also it’s an opportunity for us to acknowledge that we respect the talents who come through as rough diamonds from all different corners‚ not only from South Africa but also around the world‚ to play in the PSL.

“So for this award we felt that it’s been a while since journalists were involved in coming up with the best player for the season. So through this platform‚ this is where we get to contribute.”

Sandisiwe Bhengu‚ operations executive of the award’s sponsor‚ Hollywoodbets‚ praised the association’s efforts to reward South African talent.

“The Safja awards are an incredible platform for South African sport and the work that was done to celebrate women in sport in the month of August was phenomenal‚” Bhengu said.

“We now look forward to rewarding excellence in the male football arena in South Africa with the added value of creating a platform for the further development of the sport.”