ON November 23, sports writers will meet to decide the 11 players who have excelled this season.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Besides the finest 11, the Referee of the Year, Coach of the Year and Best Under-20 Player will also be selected, however their identity will be made public at an awards ceremony later in the year.
Harare City coach Bigboy Mawiwi, is a strong contender for the Coach of the Year Award judging from the way he has moulded an average side into championship contenders. He will however, get stiff competition from the reigning Coach of the Year, Dynamos’ Kalisto Pasuwa, who lost a number of players last season, but built a team strong enough to challenge for honours.
The Golden Boot Award and Goalkeeper of the Year are selected based on statistics and are not subject to debate. Tendai Ndoro is currently the leading scorer with 16 goals. A player who has accumulated two red cards or six yellow cards is not eligible for selection.
The club has done well in competing for the league championship, but failed to defend the Mbada Diamonds Cup, which they have won for the past two seasons. Midfielder Tawanda Muparati has excelled for the boys in blue and is largely the main reason they are still in the running for a third consecutive league championship. Muparati has been so influential that whenever he was off form or injured, Dynamos struggled. He is also in with a chance for the Soccer star of the Year award. Defender Partson Jaure might have shot himself in the foot after nearly assaulting referee Thabani Bamala after being red carded in a league match against Highlanders. However, if he is cleared of any wrong doing, he is in with a chance. Fellow defenders Ocean Mushure, Gift Bello and goalkeeper George Chigova, are some of the players that have excelled for Dynamos.
One player who has been outstanding for Highlanders this season is defender Bruce Kangwa. Kangwa has been influential to the extent that he had a large stake of winning the Soccer Star of the Year Award. However, the archaic rule of ruling out the players who have accrued six yellow cards or more might work against him. Last season’s First Runner Up Masimba Mambare, a standout performer last season, was not at his best, but Peter Moyo, goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya, Milton Ncube and Mthulisi Maphosa have made enough noise to be noticed. Last year’s finalist Innocent Mapuranga had a decent season, but his chances are slim.
Lying second on the log with the same number of points as leaders Dynamos, Harare City have performed beyond even their own expectations. Though they play largely as a team thereby becoming difficult to pick out a standout performer, James Jam, Silas Songani and Osborne Mukuradare have been brilliant.
The Game Corks have as a team lacked consistency, but Kuda Mahachi, defender Felix Chinungwe and leading top goal scorer Tendai Ndoro deserve to be among the best 11. Mahachi has an outside chance of clinching one of the top three best performers in the league.
CAPS United have had a turbulent season, as they struggled on and off the pitch. However, Tendai Samanja and Hardlife Zvirekwi are the main reason why the fifth placed “Green Machine” are four points behind log leaders Dynamos. Left back Ronald Pfumbidzai started the season strongly, but fizzled out as the season wore on.
With last season’s finalist Rodwell Chinyengetere out for the rest of the season from an injury, Erick Chipeta took over the responsibility of saving the club.
Fourth placed FC Platinum might find themselves devoid of representation on the famous calendar, but 2010 Soccer Star of the Year Charles Sibanda has an outside chance. Last season’s top goal scorer Nelson Mazivisa also stands a chance.
As was the case last season, the uniformed forces are once again fighting relegation, but Nicholas Alifandika, despite injuries, has been in top form scoring crucial goals.
The usual suspect Ronald Chitiyo has been fighting a lone battle for the relegated Monomotapa and might sneak in. Although he did not raise the form which he exhibited last season to become a Second Runner Up, Chitiyo has been outstanding for Monomotapa.
The Beitbridge-based side might have been relegated, but they had a gem in striker Alick Marime. Despite his disciplinary problems, the former Dynamos striker has been a standout performer for his club with a number of goals.
There is not much to talk about at the relegated 2010 champions, who have in the past provided two Soccer Stars of the Year in Clement Matawu and Charles Sibanda.
The soldiers would be lucky to have one single player on the calendar.
The Gishon Ntini coached side has done well this season, sitting on position seven with three games to go. However, if they are lucky to have a player on the calendar, it might be defender Blessing Chimwamuchere.
The Premiership debutants have had a good season in which they are sitting on position eight and are in the semifinals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup. Veteran defender Hebert Dirk and Simba Sithole also have a chance of being selected.
Tawanda Mareya, Stephen Siba-nda and Jacob Muzokomba have an outside chance of being included in the calendar, as they also had a good season for the Mutare-based side.
Despite a poor budget, Shabanie Mine did very well this season to win the BancABC Sup8r Trophy and survive relegation. Eriah Phiri, Valentine Ndaba and Fungai Chirinda have been outstanding for the asbestos miners.