Will boys from Kwekwe, Stephen Alimenda, Tendai Hove and Dennis Dauda reign supreme?
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
FORMER Lancashire Steel players and Kwekwe homeboys Dennis Dauda, Tendai “Fish” Hove and Stephen Alimenda could this Friday illuminate the 2014 Soccer Stars banquet to be held at a Harare hotel.
One of them is tipped to grab the big prize — to become Zimbabwe’s soccer king for 2014 while the other two could be crowed first and second runners up.
Sports writers, Premier Soccer League (PSL) coaches and their captains two weeks ago selected the XI best players of the just-ended season from which the top three will be drawn. The season’s best coach and referee as well as Rookie of the Year will also be announced on the banquet night.
From the XI Soccer Stars selected, permutations on who would be the finest three have started flying with fans holding their breath. There is heated debate on who will assume the crown from last year’s Soccer Star of the Year, Tawanda Muparati.
But an interesting scenario is that three players amongst the XI stars are all from Kwekwe and especially that the odds favour them to grab the top three positions.
Dauda and goalkeeper Hove are from ZPC Kariba while Alimenda is from champions, Dynamos.
Football standards in the industrial town of Kwekwe may have deteriorated due to the folding of big companies like Lancashire Steel, Ziscosteel and the decline in Zimasco’s production but the three have continued to shine.
They have all played for Lancashire Steel Chimbi Chimbi Boys with Dauda and Hove being teammates in 2008 at a time when Alimenda had already left the club for Mwana Africa.
Defender Dauda hails from Mbizo 6 and after leaving Lancashire Steel at the beginning of 2009, he appeared lost in the Division One wilderness turning out for DSTV Rangers and then ZPC Kariba whom he helped gain promotion into the PSL last season.
“Personally I would be surprised if I am crowned Soccer Star of the Year but at the same time I think I did well to deserve it,” said Dauda.
“I was discussing this Soccer Star thing with Fish (Tendai Hove) yesterday (Thursday) and we just told ourselves to wait and see what will happen next week.
The fact that there are three Kwekwe guys on the calendar should inspire aspiring footballers from our hometown.
“This year was the best in my career. It was a good year for me although every game was tough with great competition. Look I spent five years away from the Premiership but my return has been good. I came back mature.”
Dauda’s ZPC Kariba captain Hove saw little game time at Lancashire Steel as he deputised Edmund Chimhini who is now at Triangle.
After the steelmakers were relegated at the end of 2008, the goalkeeper crossed the floor to Ziscosteel and Chrome Stars before joining ZPC Kariba in 2012.
The Amaveni-bred goalie is also tipped to be crowned Goalkeeper of the Year.
“I think I had a good season but not my best though. I feel I could have done more. I will however not be surprised if I am named the best player because things have been really happening. Getting into the best XI itself was an achievement,” said Hove.
Despite playing what he says was the best football of his life in 2010 while at Highlanders, Alimenda could not make it onto the calendar. This year he has appeared among the best XI for the first time and it appears dreams are coming true for Alimenda who is from Mbizo 8.
“That is my goal this year to get on the calendar,” Alimenda told Standardsport in April.
“I also want to return to the national team and just like any other player, I dream of a foreign move. It is all about hard work and I hope we finish the season on a high note.”
He has now achieved all that except securing a foreign move.
Former Lancashire Steel and Kaizer Chiefs forward Luke Petros who appeared on the calendar in 1999 has bemoaned the waning standards of football in Kwekwe.
“It is good for a player to be recognised for the work he does. I am happy for the three boys who are on the calendar and I know the feeling because I experienced it in 1999. It is something that shows there are a lot of talented players in Kwekwe with potential to make it to the highest level,” said Petros.
Petros himself went on to lift the then African Cup Winners’ Cup with Kaizer Chiefs in 2001, scoring in the final.
Friday’s banquet is likely to produce shockers with the Coach of the Year being another strongly contested category.
ZPC Kariba coach Saul Chaminuka has already said he deserves being named the best gaffer of the season ahead of four-time championship winning Kalisto Pasuwa.
Dynamos teenage defender Anesu Gondo is likely to be named Rookie of the Year although How Mine goalkeeper Donovan Bernard is also hoping for the accolade.