THE biggest talking point from the 2017 Castle Lager Soccer Stars of the Year final list last week was the absence of a goalkeeper in the history of the domestic premiership, but there were a number of players from across the domestic topflight league who could feel unlucky to have missed out on selection.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
It was always going to be a difficult task for a select pool of club coaches, captains and football writers who did the selecting and as expected, there were a lot of surprise inclusions and omissions into the finest XI.
But to come up with a Soccer Stars’ list that is unanimously approved in the football fraternity is simply an impossible task.
However, it is difficult not to sympathise with Black Rhinos marksman Lot Chiwunga, who was conspicuous by his absence on the 2017 Castle Lager Soccer Stars’ list announced early last week.
Chiwunga, making his return to the top-flight league after spending two years in Division One, found the back of the net on 12 occasions, to finish as runner-up in the race for the golden boot.
Yet, it was not enough to earn him a place among the 11 best footballers from the just-ended football season.
Apart from Chiwunga, there are other players who did enough to make it on the Soccer Stars calendar, which for the first time did not include a goalkeeper.
Chicken Inn goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze immediately comes to mind following a season in which he kept 18 clean sheets in 31 appearances this season.
But it was obviously not good enough to earn him a place among the top performers, and the same goes for impressive FC Platinum goalkeeper Wallace Magalane who kept 10 clean sheets in 13 appearances, helping his side to a maiden premiership title.
Magalane’s teammate Winston Mhango, for all his consistency, grit and drive in the middle of the park, was omitted from the Soccer Stars calendar even as the Zvishavane side contributed two players to the list.
For the better part of the season, midfielder Innocent Muchaneka was arguably Chicken Inn’s best player as he earned himself a call up into the Warriors squads for the Cosafa Cup and African Nations Championship qualifiers.
Muchaneka is the Gamecocks’ joint top scorer, along with veteran striker Obadiah Tarumbwa and many thought he would be the first Chicken Inn player on the Soccer Stars finalist list.
Former Bantu Rovers attacking midfielder Bukhosi Sibanda was also unlucky not to make it onto the Soccer Stars as he finished the season as the fifth top scorer.
Despite leaving for South African side Ubuntu Cape Town FC midseason, Sibanda’s 10 goals remain the fifth best tally and that is one feat that deserves special recognition.
While PSL runners-up Dynamos have two players on the list, defensive linkman Tichaona Chipunza was another notable performer in a team that was widely expected to struggle, but pushed for the title until the final day.
His coach Lloyd Mutasa reckons the deep midfielder deserved to be among the Soccer Star finalists despite starting the season slow.
The Sports Hub drew a list of 11 best unlucky soccer stars who failed to make it onto the calendar.