Former Brave Warriors gaffer Ricardo Mannetti and retired prolific striker Rudolf Bester were yesterday among the first people to congratulate striker Peter Shalulile and winger Deon Hotto for scooping awards at the Premier Soccer League (PSL) annual awards ceremony on Sunday night.
As widely expected, Shalulile, who plies his trade for South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns, walked away as the biggest winner at the PSL awards when he scooped the prestigious Footballer of the Year accolade and the Players’ Player of the Year award.
Mannetti said Shalulile has proven everyone wrong because many felt he was going to fail at Sundowns, but “just look at what he had done for the club in his first season”.
“I have watched Shalulile grow as a player – and trust me, he is someone you would not want to bet with. If you say he can’t do something, he will go to all extremes to achieve what you say he can’t. That’s the type of player he is,” said the retired box-to-box midfielder, who also won the South African premiership title, the South African Top-8 Cup and the Absa Cup with Santos during his heyday.
“As for his future, I won’t be surprised if I see him playing for one of the big clubs in Europe and somewhere outside South Africa in seasons to come.”
Mannetti said the first time he saw Hotto was when he was the assistant coach of the Brave Warriors, serving under then head coach Nori Kanjuuka, and Hotto was still playing in the First Division at the time.
“He immediately caught my attention and it was there and then when we decided to give him an opportunity. Luckily, it wasn’t long before African Stars snatched him and brought him to Windhoek. He left his mark at African Stars and, as they say, the rest is history.
“At Pirates, I knew he was going to make it, because his game has grown in leaps and bounds as an all-round player who can play at almost all positions. So, it was coming for him and great things are still awaiting,” said Mannetti.
Bester also spoke highly of the two players, saying Namibians should expect more exploits from the two, as they are only getting started.
“I’m really proud of the boys. At the start of the season I said they have what it takes to breakthrough at both Pirates and Sundowns – and now, here we are. This should not be the ceiling for them; they must continue pushing because I know they can achieve more. They have both proved it time and again that they have what it takes,” said the former Pirates and Maritzburg United forward.
The highly-enterprising Shalulile (27) was voted for exclusively by the 16 DStv Premiership coaches as well as players. The Footballer of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year winnings saw Shalulile pocket over N$400 000 in prize monies.
Not only did Shalulile dominate on the night, but he also became the first-ever Namibian footballer to win the coveted PSL Footballer of the Year award.
Shalulile leapfrogged teammate Themba Zwane and Maritzburg United’s Thabiso Kutumela to both awards.
Since his arrival at Sundowns from Highlands Park at the beginning of the season, Shalulile has had a sweltering campaign, scoring 22 goals and amassing eight assists in 39 games across all competitions as he helped Sundowns march towards a fourth successive league title.
The prolific Namibian frontman also came within a hairsbreadth of sharing the PSL Golden Boot award with SuperSport United’s Bradley Grobler, who boasts 16 league goals, compared to Shalulile’s 15 goals scored this season.
Hotto, who plays for South African giants Orlando Pirates, was also in the thick of things when he bagged the MTN8 Last Man Standing award for this thrilling performance in the MTN8 Cup.
Meanwhile, President Hage Geingob and leader of the official opposition party PDM, McHenry Venaani, also congratulated Shalulile and Hotto for their wins.
Shalulile’s former club Tura Magic also issued a statement congratulating the player.