ZAMBIAN football legend Kalusha Bwalya will be guest of honour at the belated Soccer Stars banquet now set for Friday next week, the Sports Writers Association of Zimbabwe (Swaz) has announced.
The players and officials who excelled in the 2010 season will be honoured with different prizes at the banquet, which was meant to be held last month but was delayed as the organisation sought sponsorship.
The Soccer Star of the Year, the Referee of the Year and the Coach of the Year winners will be announced at the banquet where they are set to receive cash prizes and trophies.
Swaz treasurer Philemon Mhlanga told IndependentSport that all was set for the banquet with Bwalya expected in the country on the day of the banquet, which will be held in Harare.
“We have received a lot of criticism over the banquet but after the delays we will finally deliver a night to remember,” said Mhlanga. “We feel honoured that Kalusha has agreed to come and grace the big occasion.”
Bwalya led Zambia to the African Cup of Nations finals in 1994 where they lost to Nigeria in the final match, among many other notables about his career.
Zimbabweans will remember him more for the heartbreaking goal he scored at the National Sports Stadium to earn his team a draw that booked Chipolopolo’s ticket to the 1994 finals.
Bwalya has earned a place among the best players to have come out of Africa having also made his mark in Europe.
He is currently the Zambia Football Association president and has of late been strengthening ties with his Zimbabwean counterparts, encouraging more friendly matches between the two nations.
Swaz took advantage of Bwalya’s presence in the country as he will be coming to watch Zambia’s national Under-23 side take on Zimbabwe in an All-Africa Games qualifier on at Rufaro Stadium Sunday.
Highlanders’ Joel Ngodzo, who has been rumoured to have joined newly promoted Platinum FC, and former Motor Action striker Charles Sibanda, apparently now at the miners, are the two frontrunners for the Soccer Star of the Year award where the winner will leave US$ 3000 richer and a trophy.
They are both among 11 players already announced who will also receive US$1 000 each.
Motor Action’s Joey Antipas is hotly tipped for the Coach of the Year accolade after leading his team to their first Premier Soccer League championship.
The selection of the 11 Soccer Star of the Year finalists was mired by controversy with sports writers divided over who should make it onto the calendar.