There are still a few months left of the season, but Mamelodi Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena has opened up the footballer of the season award debate.
Sundowns midfielder Andile Jali was named Player of the Month for December and Mokwena feels that the discussion for the footballer of the season prize should already be underway, based on the performances of the experienced former Orlando Pirates player.
With Themba Zwane also performing well this season, Mokwena admits he is surprised that there is no hype around who will walk away with the prize which was won by Sundowns forward Peter Shalulile last season.
"Congratulations to AJ. I think it's well deserved. If you look at AJ and his importance to the team. Of course, I always say the individual awards in football mean very little if there is no recognition of the contribution of your teammates, including those that don't play. When you have individual players receiving individual awards, or coaches receiving individual awards, it's jusy a basic reflection of the contribution of the entire group," Mokwena told the Sundowns media department.
"AJ has been phenomenal. His level of consistency, his ability to play from a phychological perspective, with the same engagement and attachment to the game has been exceptional. Giving performances where you are given an average rating of seven or eight for every single match is probably the most difficult thing in football. He needs to be given a lot of praise for the hard work hard and the contributions of the medical and condition department cannot be ignored, because they have been fantastic for all the players.
"What's important is that we continue to work in this way and if you continue to work in this way, maybe the debate will start because I am surprised that with AJ's performances, with Mshishi's (Themba Zwane's) performances and consistency, we haven't started the debate of footballer of the season. I am very surprised. Maybe with the media, we can start the talk of 'is Andile Jali the footballer of the season?'