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BEST GOALKEEPER AWARD BACK

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MBABANE – After about 17 years, the MTN Premier League will now recognise goalkeepers at the end of the season.

Ahead of this morning’s new sponsorship agreement launch at the sponsor’s exquisite headquarters in Ezulwini, the elite shot stoppers will be amused to learn that there will as of the current season, be a Goalkeeper of the Season Award in the league. The gong recognises goalkeepers who have kept the cleanest sheets and least goals conceded among other things which may include assists, distribution, communication with defence and even goals scored all season. Some goalkeepers have the knack for goals, take Green Mamba’s Thokozani Mkhulisi for example, he scored more than three times as a goalkeeper in his last season with them.

Overseas, Liverpool’s Allison Becker did it with a stunning header last season in the English Premier League (EPL). “That is one innovation that our Awards Committee felt was required as goalkeepers played a huge role in deciding titles, but were hardly recognised as preference is always in the forwards and midfielders mostly,” said an impeccable source.

It is understood that the introduction of the award was approved so that it also brought competition for a place in the national team among the shot stoppers and also for strikers who must improve their techniques in front of the goalkeepers. However, the amount the gong carries with it will deliberately be withheld as the launch takes place this morning.

Reward

This award had been missing throughout the years in the MTN Premier League. The reward, however, is nothing less than E10 000 for the best goalie. Last season’s Player of the Season, Muzi ‘Mzoro’ Dlamini took home E20 000 before the 33 per cent tax deduction while the top goalscorer Phiwayinkhosi Dlamini walked away with E12 000 before tax but he had also won the first round prize of E6 000. The best coach took home E4 000.

PLE Chief Operations Officer (COO) Pat Vilakati did not answer his cellphone each time he was called. His office reported that he and the Executive Committee were on a retreat. MTN Eswatini’s Brand and Sponsorship Manager Lando Dlamini said it was the PLE who had all the details.

Meanwhile, an effort to get comments from some of the elite goalkeepers like Nhlanhla Gwebu (Young Buffaloes), Sandile ‘Nkomishi’ Ginindza (Mbabane Swallows) and former Mbabane Highlanders’ Phila hit a snag as they all had not responded by close of business yesterday, presumably due to team training.

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