From Relebohile Mofokeng to Shandre Campbell, Jaedin Rhodes and Ime Okon: The DStv Premiership’s toughest battle for Young Player of the Season

While not much has changed in the DStv Premiership’s status quo with Mamelodi Sundowns continuing to dictate the matters, this season has seen a lot of young players being given chances to stake their claim in the big time.

Many of those youngsters have put the opportunities to good use, setting the Premier Soccer League (PSL) stage alight with exceptional skills and assuming bigger roles normally reserved for seasoned campaigners.

That has led to a debate about which player will walk away with the coveted DStv Premiership Young Player of the Season.

With the PSL criteria stating the player must be under 21 years old on 1 January in the year that the season commences, some of the young outstanding players such as Stellenbosch FC’s Devin Titus, Oswin Appollis of Polokwane City and others might not be considered.

Sundowns and Bafana Bafana star player Thapelo Maseko, who was a nominee when Cassius Mailula won it last season, has not played much football for runaway log leaders in the league this season.

Maseko joined Sundowns from SuperSport United at the beginning of the campaign.

Hollywoodbets Sports Blog looks at the players who could be strong contenders for the Young Player of the Season.

Relebohile Mofokeng, 19, Orlando Pirates

After breaking into the Pirates’ senior team in the latter stages of the previous season, Mofokeng has become one of the key figures in the Sea Robbers’ ambitions to return to the Caf Champions League.

Within a short space of time into this season, Mofokeng had done enough to earn a trial with English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The starlet has made 20 appearances in the league for Pirates, scoring two goals and assisting three times.

The youngster has played at least 30 matches for Pirates across all competitions this season.

He remains crucial for the Buccaneers in their mission to finish the season in the second spot on the log table.

The teenager is definitely a hot favourite to clinch the accolade.

Shandre Campbell, 18, SuperSport United

Having made his debut this season, the versatile midfielder has proven to be a real deal in the big time.

Playing in a youthful SuperSport, Campbell has notched 16 league appearances and his return has been great.

The teenager has been involved in six goals in the league for the Gavin Hunt-coached side scoring two and assisting four times.

Campbell has garnered valuable minutes and experience in other competitions including the CAF Confederation Cup, MTN8 and the Nedbank Cup where he has scored three goals in three appearances.

Asanele Velebayi, 21, Cape Town Spurs

Adjusting to the top tier has proven to be no easy feat for both clubs and players coming from the Motsepe Foundation Championship (MFC), but Velebayi is one of those players who have done it without much problems.

Velebayi has been one of the few shining lights in Spurs’ gloomy season in the Premiership.

The attacking midfielder has played 18 matches for the relegation-threatened side and scored a single goal.

If the Urban Warriors suffer relegation back to the lower tier, Velebayi is one of those players who are unlikely to return to the first division.

Jaedin Rhodes, 21, Cape Town City

After making his professional debut in 2022 as a teenager, Rhodes is already playing like a veteran for coach Eric Tinkler’s City.

The forward has played 23 out of 24 DStv Premiership matches and that just shows how important he is to the side.

In those matches, the attacking midfielder has scored four goals and provided a single assist in the process.

Luke Baartman, 17, Cape Town Spurs

Baartman was promoted to the senior team this season after impressing in the DStv Diski Challenge.

Despite Spurs facing the danger of making the unenviable swift return to the MFC, the teenager has still been able to force his way into the team.

When given a chance, Baartman has done well, scoring twice in nine appearances. One of his two goals was against Kaizer Chiefs.

Hopefully, he does play more matches before the end of the season to meet the criteria to be in the running for the award.

Ime Okon, 20, SuperSport United

Coach Gavin Hunt prefers to build his defence around experienced campaigners and for Ime Okon to be trusted by the four-time league-winning mentor shows his true mettle as a defender.

Okon has been unbelievably massive for Hunt’s men, playing 30 matches across all tournaments this season.

The youngster has played 20 games and accumulated 1,564 minutes in the league. He has one goal next to his name.

Due to his exceptional performances, many people called for him to be included in the Bafana Bafana setup.

Don’t be surprised if the defender rises above all the attackers and takes home the young player accolade.

Written Sithembiso Dindi