PSL: Half season review – best player so far – Samir Nurkovic

With the PSL taking a short mid-season break, we reflect on the league’s best performer so far in Kaizer Chiefs’ Samir Nurkovic.

When Kaizer Chiefs ended last season with a seven-game winless run in the PSL, a ninth-place finish and losing the Nedbank Cup final to TS Galaxy, few would have foreseen their turnaround this term.

To have won 11 of their 14 games so far and sit seven points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns is a remarkable achievement, albeit one that won’t count for a great deal if they conspire to throw away the league title from his position.

FOCAL POINT

The number one reason for their change in fortunes is a newly direct style of play which has proved a nightmare for most opponents to deal with. That has only been possible because of the signing of Serbian striker, Samir Nurkovic. His arrival has completely changed the direction of the club and how they intend to get there. For that reason, he has undoubtedly been the league’s best player in the first half of the season.

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Samir Nurkovic in action for Kaizer Chiefs during the 2019/20 Absa Premiership (PSL) season ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

He currently sits with eight league goals to his name, actually one below top scorer so far, Peter Shalulile, but his impact has been felt much more than just in terms of scoring.

No player in the league has won more aerial duels as he dominates the skies, whilst his four man of the match awards are the most in the division, with no other player having won the accolade more than twice.

PSL MOTM OUTINGS

27 Aug – versus Cape Town City

The Serb did not score or assist in this game, but he dominated Benni McCarthy’s charges in the air and he had a big hand in Chiefs’ late winner as he knocked down Bernard Parker’s long diagonal pass and it led to Kearyn Baccus’ goal. He had been impressive from the first game, but this is the match he really announced himself.

27 Oct – versus Mamelodi Sundowns

Nurkovic grabbed a brace in his game, which proved a statement victory for Amakhosi. He turned home Reeve Frosler’s cross for the opener before toe-poking home in the second half at a crucial time when Sundowns were dominating and threatening to equalise.

27 Nov – versus Stellenbosch

On the back of losing in the Telkom Knockout semi-final, Chiefs needed a reaction away to Stellenbosch FC in Cape Town and Nurkovic came up with the answers with another brace in a 4-0 win. He once again dominated in the air in the clash, scoring twice with his head.

7 Dec – Bloemfontein Celtic

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Samir Nurkovic of Kaizer Chiefs celebrates his goal during the Absa Premiership (PSL) 2019/20 game between Stellenbosch FC and Kaizer Chiefs at Cape Town Stadium on 27 November 2019 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Against an injury-hit Siwelele defence, Nurkovic grabbed a hattrick with one header and two goals with his feet. He was largely unplayable in this clash whenever Chiefs got crosses, long balls or set-plays into the box and deservedly took the man of the match award.

There have been numerous players who have excelled in the PSL this season including Shalulile, Know Mutizwa, Lebogang Manyama, Sipho Mbule, Rushine De Reuck, Mosa Lebusa and Kermit Erasmus, but Nurkovic has without a shadow of a doubt been the league’s best player so far and is an early front-runner for Footballer of the Season.

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