THE 2015 soccer season has come and gone.
By Brian Nkiwane
Unlike in the past four years where the championship was decided on the last day of the league, it was a different scenario this time around as Bulawayo side Chicken Inn won the title with a match to play.
Congratulations to the GameCocks for winning the championship, which Harare giants Dynamos had turned into their own property, winning it four consecutive years.
Tomorrow, the country’s sports writers, coaches and club captains will choose the 11 players that have shone the brightest in the season, as well as choosing the soccer star of the year and the two runners up, coach of the year, referee of the year and the goalkeeper of the year.
Standardsport looks at some of the players that were outstanding for the better part of the season, club by club in respect of their position on the log table.
Skipper Danny “Deco” Phiri was the man behind all their success, even starring in the national team. The midfield maestro played an important role in his team, but he is not eligible for selection after he received more than six yellow cards this season. Plucked from the unfashionable world of Division One football, in-form striker Edmore Chirambadare scored important goals for the GameCocks which even earned him a call up to the national team. At one point, he was joint top goal scorer with the now leading goal scorer, Knox Mutizwa of Highlanders.
Lawrence Mhlanga, veteran Clemence Matawu, Mitchell Katsvairo and goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze were all in top form, with Chipezeze and Mhlanga also earning national team call ups.
FC Platinum missed the championship by inches in their maiden year in the top-flight league in 2011. The platinum miners’ supporters endured the same pain again this year when Chicken Inn sealed the championship last week, with the Zvishavane-based side breathing on their neck on second position.
Their shot-stopper, Petros Mhari, has been one of the safest pair of hands in the country. One of the Moyo twins, Elvis, had a decent season. Marshal Mudewe is also another contender, while Brian Muzondiwa was in top form, as well as Aubrey Chirwa.
The dethroned champions should not despair as they mounted a late charge in an unsuccessful bid for an unprecedented fifth consecutive title.
Ronald Chitiyo has been the driving force for the Glamour Boys, although he fizzled midway in the season. Godknows Murwira was also sure-footed, along with evergreen wingback defender Ocean Mushure.
Stephen Makatuka was in a no-nonsense mood in the heart of defence at CAPS United, who overcome a stormy season to fight for a top four finish.
From the look of things, Mutizwa is set to grab the Golden Boot award, having banged in 14 goals this season. What a blinder of a season Mutizwa had this year.
Above all, he has been one of the top performers in the league throughout the season. His performance also earned him a call up to the national team. Veteran Bruce Kangwa and midfielder King Nadolo have also been impressive for the Bulawayo side. Veteran Obadiah Tarumbwa was also influential.
Talent Chawapiwa has been exceptional at the City Boys, as has been William Manondo and James Jam.
The panel has to decide whether any of the players from Hwange deserve recognition. The same applies to Chapungu, How Mine, Buffaloes, Flame Lily and Dongo Saw Mills.
A lot was expected from last season runners-up, ZPC Kariba, who were disappointing, but Raphael Manuvire was always the shining light after he returned from a long-term injury.
Tsholotsho skipper Smart Stima never put his foot wrong for the entire season, making him a contender for the soccer stars calendar this year. Gerald Takwara, now at FC Platinum, is one of the players that excelled, for both Tsholotsho and his new paymasters FC Platinum.