DStv Premiership: Most experienced payers

football13 May 2024 08:55| © Mzansi Football
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Ramahlwe Mphahlele © Gallo Images

As the Premier Soccer League heads into the final weeks of the season, so the need to rely on the experience of key players becomes more important.

There is much to be settled in the DStv Premiership, even if champions Mamelodi Sundowns have run away to the title.

So, who are the most experienced players at each of the top flight clubs? delves into the statistics books and reveals the most experienced player at each of the 16 clubs

AmaZulu: The 34-year-old Ramahlwe Mphahlele was only 17 when he debuted at Moroka Swallows in 2007, making his first start against Orlando Pirates and helping his side win the game with a clean sheet at the Orlando Stadium. He was a Nedbank Cup winner in his second seasons before moving in 2011 to Mamelodi Sundowns, where he won two league titles. But his decision to move to Kaizer Chiefs in 2016 cost him the opportunity for much more. Mphahlele, who has 17 caps for South Africa, was at Chiefs for five seasons before moving to AmaZulu in 2020. He has made more than 350 league and cup starts in his career with 10 goals scored, the last one a satisfying header against Sundowns for Usuthu at the end of last season season.

Cape Town City: Skipper Thamsanqa Mkhize, 35, recently went past the 300-match mark since he began his career with a debut at Lamontville Golden Arrows in December 2010. He was let go by both Arrows and his second club Maritzburg United and was in something of a wilderness when he arrived in Cape Town for trials in 2016. But his quality was quickly apparent to coach Eric Tinkler and Mkhize has been at the club for each of their eight top flight seasons. He has also earned 12 caps for South Africa at right back, as well as winning the 2016 Telkom Knockout and 2018 MTN8 with the coastal outfit.

Cape Town Spurs: Clayton Daniels started the season as Spurs’ most experienced player at the age of 39 and his last game for the club on New Year’s Eve put him a total of 426 starts for his career. But he has since departed the club, leaving the younger Nazeer Allie, who turns 39 at the end of the season, as the club’s most experienced player. He made the first of his 362 career starts as a teenager at Ajax Cape Town at the end of the 2004-05 season, debuting against Sundowns. Allie spent 11 seasons at Ajax before moving onto Bidvest Wits where he was a league champion in his first season in 2016. He then moved onto Maritzburg for four more seasons before returning home to the Mother City and helping Spurs to win promotion.

Chippa United: The 35-year-old Siyabonga Nhlapo only joined Chippa several months into the season, having come to the end of his six-year spell at SuperSport United and has been a valuable squad member as the club reached the Nedbank Cup semifinal and continue to chase for a place in the top eight at the end of the season. Nhlapo, who began his career at Jomo Cosmos in 2011 and also had spells at Bidvest Wits and Highlands Park, has total of 256 starts in his career, which has seen him play as both a fullback and defensive midfielder. His versatility has made him an attractive proposition, combined with his experience at the top level of the game.

Kaizer Chiefs: It is the 17th season for Itumeleng Khune in the PSL – all of them at Chiefs – and arguably the one filled with the most turmoil as the club suspended him for indiscipline but have since rehabilitated him back to the squad. Khune has made five appearances this season, including the derby defeat to Orlando Pirates in October. He has a total of 368 appearance for Chiefs, still shy of Doctor Khumalo’s record of 397 league and cup starts for AmaKhosi. Khune, who is now 36, made his debut in a 1-1 draw with Jomo Cosmos on August 25, 2008. He has won two league tiles and four cup winners’ medals plus 91 caps for the country.

Lamontville Golden Arrows: The best performer for Arrows this season is also their most experienced player, who is in his third spell at the club. The 34-year-old Gladwin Shitolo has missed a single game for the club all season, marking his 30th start of the campaign on Sunday in the home win over Chippa United. His performances at centre back have been a revelation, especially after the club let him go the season before last, only then to resign him. He was also at Arrows for the 2015-2016 season, which was one of his best and earned him a move to Orlando Pirates. Shitolo started at Jomo Cosmos, played at Platinum Stars and Chippa United.

Mamelodi Sundowns: Ronwen Williams last season passed fellow goalkeeper Dennis Onyango’s number of career starts and with 42 games played alone this season marked his 450th start for the club in the goalless draw at Lamontville Golden Arrows last Wednesday. The 32-year-old was a teenager when he debuted at SuperSport United in January 2011 and played a club record 370 matches for them over 12 season before moving to Sundowns, where he has won two successive DStv Premiership titles. Williams is both captain of country and club. Williams is the record-holder for most clean-sheets in a PSL season by a gloveman after he kept 18 in the last campaign. That beat the previous record of Orlando Pirates’ Moeneeb Josephs by one. He has 14 in 19 league starts this campaign.

Moroka Swallows: Ntsikelelo Nyauza, who turned 34 on Friday, is the player with the most games in the Birds’ nest. The centre back, who had been replaced in the first half of last Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at Cape Town City after suffering injury, joined Swallows in the January transfer window after being out of the game for six months when his contract at Richards Bay came to an end at the conclusion of the last season and is now on 236 league and cup starts in his career, which began at Platinum Stars,. He was 20 years old when he made his debut in February 2011 and after three seasons, moved to Orlando Pirates. He spent more than a decade at the Buccaneers.

Orlando Pirates: Deon Hotto made his 290th league and cup start in the top flight football in South Africa since arriving from Namibia when Pirates beat Chippa in Soweto on Saturday. The international winger, who has been pressed into service as a makeshift left back at times this season, was first at Golden Arrows in 2014, spending one season in the NFD as they won the title in 2015 and promotion back to the top flight after a single season in the second tier. He moved to Bloemfontein Celtic in 2016, then Wits for two seasons and in 2020 joined Pirates, where he is now in his fourth season.

Polokwane City: Midfielder Cole Alexander signed for Polokwane City in January after a year in Sweden. He has also played in India but began his career as a teenage prodigy at Ajax Cape Town, debuting at 19 years of age. He had loan spells at Vasco da Gama and Chippa United but it was his move to Polokwane City 10 years ago that established his reputation for a high work rate and tireless effort. After two seasons with Polokwane, he went to SuperSport, then Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs. He has made 217 starts in his PSL career with 12 goals scored.

Richards Bay: Abel Mabaso, who turns 33 on Wednesday, has only made six starts for the struggling KwaZulu-Natal outfit this season, the last of which was in March, but remains one of the few players at the club with more than only a handful of seasons experience in the DStv Premiership. He made his debut at Mamelodi Sundowns in August 2012, in a 4-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8, but after one season went to Mpumalanga Black Aces, Maritzburg United and then Ajax Cape Town. His nomadic career continued at Chippa United before signing for Orlando Pirates in 2018 and spending four seasons at the Buccaneers. When Richards Bay won promotion, Mabaso was one of the experienced players they roped into their squad.

Royal AM: Thabo Matlaba has shown no signs of slowing down, despite turning 36 at the end of last year, and been one of Royal AM’s top performers this campaign. Lining up on Saturday against Mamelodi Sundowns, he was making his 26th start of the campaign and now has a total of 382 league and cup starts since his debut in August 2010 for Free State Stars.

He was signed by Orlando Pirates midway through the 2011-12 season and spent another seven seasons at the club before his contract was not renewed. He then went to Black Leopards and Swallows before moving to Royal AM, where he continues with his yeoman’s service.

Sekhukhune United: The 34-year-old Daniel Cardoso has made 28 starts for Sekhukhune this season, picking up where he left off when he joined last campaign and lined up in 35 matches. Cardoso now has a career total of 312 league and cup starts since he began his career at Free State Stars in 2012. He moved to Kaizer Chiefs after three seasons but persistent problems with shin splints meant it took a while before he could establish himself in the line-up. After seven seasons with AmaKhosi, he was left go and Sekhukhune had no hesitation in snapping him up and putting him into the heart of their defence.

Stellenbosch: It has taken a long time for Sage Stephens to establish himself as a regular but he is the most experienced player at a club who are having a dream season, with success in the Carling Knockout and chasing a place in African club competition next season. Stephens, was known as Sage Lottering when he first began his career in 2011 at Moroka Swallows but was a back-up for four seasons to Greg Etafia and made only 12 starts with the Birds. At Cape Town City he was back up to Peter Leeuwenburgh but after joining Stellenbosch in 2020 finally became a first choice and now made 136 career starts.

SuperSport United: There are several players with extensive experience at SuperSport, like Bradley Grobler and Thulani Hlatshwayo but it is Zimbabwe international Onismor Bhasera who has made more starts than any of his teammates. He has a total of 387 in his long career in South African football, that was broken up when he went to play in England for four years. Bhasera, 38, started this season on the treatment table after a knee injury but has bounced back to play in half of his side’s matches in the campaign, which is his eighth at SuperSport. Prior to that he was at Bidvest Wits. Before going to England in 2009, he played at Classic, Maritzburg United and Chiefs.

TS Galaxy: Vuyo Mere has sat on the bench for 21 of TS Galaxy’s 26 league games this season but is yet to come on. But the 40-year-old did have run for the last half hour of the Nedbank Cup game against amateurs D’General in Bloemfontein in March, which means he has seen action this season. It brings to 23 the number of seasons that the fullback, who made his debut in the Premier Soccer League in August 2001 for Hellenic against Black Leopards, has competed in. Mere was only 17 when he broke through and has gone onto become a league champion with Mamelodi Sundowns, win two trophies with Platinum Stars and collet 12 caps for South Africa. Mere has also played at Moroka Swallows (two spells, including one in the National First Division) and been at Galaxy for almost two and a half seasons now. Mere, who has made 506 starts in his career, is top of the longevity list in the Premier Soccer League. These are the players who made up the list of the top five with the most season played: