Thu Jul 24 19:06:27 SAST 2014

Race to strike gold

Mar 25, 2012 | LOUIS MAZIBUKO |

TOP PSL goal scorer Katlego Mphela is in unwelcome company.

GOBBLING UP GOALS: Free State Stars' Edward Manqele. Picture by Gallo Images

The Mamelodi Sundowns marksman had been leading the pack in pursuit of the league's golden boot for the better part of the season, but now finds himself in the company of a growing number of determined contenders.

Mphela sits with 10 goals from 22 league games. He shares the spot with relatively unknown newcomer Edward Manqele of Free State Stars and Moroka Swallows' veteran hit man Siyabonga Nomvethe.

Manqele, (24) was born on June 16 1987 and was spotted by Stars while turning up for Trabzon, a Vodacom league outfit. League sponsors Absa Bank wanted a goal feast this season, so they raised the bar by lifting the target for the golden boot honour to 25 goals.

But a haze hangs over the prize which is said to be a top-of-the-range vehicle.

This prize might well be a disincentive for top players signed by the big clubs as their earnings make the prize not worthy of a chase.

But for Manqele who has suddenly developed an appetite for scoring goals, the prize will be welcome. In addition, topping the league's scoring will open up new opportunities, not the least being a national call-up to Bafana Bafana.

The same ambitions might not be far-fetched for Nomvethe, whose name controversially came up following the Bafana goal drought.

Nomvethe benefitted from frustration-driven calls by fans and some soccer analysts for Pitso Mosimane to bring back maverick Orlando Pirates striker and ex-Bafana prodigal son Benni McCarthy.

McCarthy is himself a contender for the league's top striker, just three goals shy of Mphela and company.

McCarthy is on seven goals along with Santos' Eleazar Rodgers and Nyasha Mushekwi of Sundowns. Then, with eight goals apiece, are strikers Lehlohonolo Majoro of Kaizer Chiefs and David Mathebula of Swallows.

All these strikers hope to reach the league's target of 25 goals by the end of the season, with the winner driving the car home.

Given that the leaders have so far scored 10 goals in 22 games, all contenders will need a miracle to hit the 25-goal mark. But it's the last lap of the league and it is highly unlikely they will more than double their scoring efforts to date.

Teams have 10 games left before the season ends.

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Thu Jul 24 19:06:27 SAST 2014 ::

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