highs and lows of the season

STANDOUT: Lucas Thwala of Orlando Pirates was the season's best performer. Pic. Lefty Shivambu.  © Gallo Images.
MAFIKENG, SOUTH AFRICA - 15 November 2008, Lucas Thwala and David Mathebula during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates held at Mafikeng Stadium in Mafikeng, South Africa.

Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images
STANDOUT: Lucas Thwala of Orlando Pirates was the season's best performer. Pic. Lefty Shivambu. © Gallo Images. MAFIKENG, SOUTH AFRICA - 15 November 2008, Lucas Thwala and David Mathebula during the Absa Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates held at Mafikeng Stadium in Mafikeng, South Africa. Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

The 2008-09 season was a thriller and many football fans were kept on the edge of their seats with some eye-catching displays. But some fans were let down by some dull performances from the players and adding to this were some questionable decisions by referees.

The 2008-09 season was a thriller and many football fans were kept on the edge of their seats with some eye-catching displays. But some fans were let down by some dull performances from the players and adding to this were some questionable decisions by referees.

But not all referees were disappointing as there were those who ensured that they didn't spoil matches with dubious decisions. Sowetan sports writers assessed the season and came up with their best performers and selected their best and worst PSL XI.

l Best player of the season - Lucas Thwala, Orlando Pirates defender.

It had to be be Thwala. Not only did he contribute to Pirates conceding the least number of goals in the Absa Premiership, but he also scored crucial goals for the team - nine of them. What also made Thwala tick was his sheer commitment and hard work. He is a quick-witted defender and a good reader of the game.

l Best coach of the season - Rudi Krol of Pirates.

Though the Buccaneers failed to win the championship, they played an entertaining brand of football under the tutelage of the Dutchman. Krol proved his technical and tactical savvy at Pirates and he is a coach who is not intimidated by supporters. What also made Krol special was the way he interacted with players and the fact he fielded players on merit, not because they were the favourites of some supporters and journalists.

l Worst coach of the season - Roger Palmgren, the sacked Thanda Royal Zulu mentor.

He failed to motivate his players and at some stage they were hammered 6-2 by Bidvest Wits. He failed dismally and the management took long to replace him, hence they found themselves involved in the National First Division playoffs. Palmgren was replaced by Mlungisi "Professor" Ngubane but it was too late to rescue Amabhubesi.

l Best referee of the season - Jerome Damon.

He has been consistent throughout the season and soccer fans always enjoyed the matches he handled because he allowed the games to flow. He is not quick to issue yellow or red cards for minor tackles. But still he was not shy to punish players for dangerous tackles. He deservedly won the PSL referee of the season for 2008-09.

l Worst referee of the season - Abdul Ebrahim.

The lanky referee surprised all and sundry when he erroneously gave Bloemfontein Celtic's attacker Geoffrey Sserunkuma a red card in the semifinal of the Telkom Knockout against Orlando Pirates in Durban. The culprit in that match was Celtic defender Cyril Mubiala. He was suspended with Yusuf Vawda, the fourth official he consulted before sending off Sserunkuma. Ebrahim also surprised everyone when he only gave Maritzburg United's defender Gary Goldstone a yellow card after he broke Kaizer Chiefs striker Tshepo Bulu's nose with an elbow in their league match Chatsworth Stadium on September 14.

l Best assistant referees of the season - Enock Molefe and Geronimo Piedt.

Hard runners and always spot-on in their decisions. They made the job of the man in the middle easy. They always acted swiftly when dealing with coaches who moved away from their designated areas. They also notified referees on time when teams made substitutions. They were fully part of every match they were assigned to.

l Best goal of the season - Katlego Loke of Thanda Royal Zulu against Sundowns.

He struck a beauty when he beat Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Brian Baloyi in their Absa Premiership match at Mpumalanga Stadium on April 15. He received a defence-splitting pass from July Mahlangu and Loke chipped over Baloyi who had strayed from his goals and that strike earned Thanda Royal Zulu full points.

l Miss of the season - Bennett Chenene of Pirates against Ajax Cape Town.

It was the final of the Telkom Knockout, when Chenene was introduced as a substitute with his team trailing. He missed with only the goalkeeper to beat.

The game ended a second later.

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