Choosing the Soccer Star of the Year from the Castle Lager Premier Soccer league this year is a mere formality.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
A mere formality because the reigning Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere has once again made it a one-man race.
Chinyengetere and his coach at champions FC Platinum, Norman Mapeza, made the league’s monthly awards a big yawn, scooping the top gongs in the last three months.
In the process, FC Platinum managed to retain their crown as the champions of Zimbabwe. Chinyengerete and Mapeza are also set to retain their accolades from last season as the Player of the year and Coach of the year respectively.
Going into the season’s ultimate fixtures this weekend, Chinyengetere leads the race for the Golden Boot with 16 goals, two ahead of Traingle talisman Lameck Nhamo and three better than ZPC’s David Temwanjera.
It looks almost certain that it will be double joy for Chinyengetere, a player who suffered a career-threatening injury back in 2012 while playing for Hwange.
Nevertheless as is custom, local journalists, coaches and team captains will gather at Mandel Training this Thursday to choose the players who excelled in the just-ended league season.
While Chinyengetere and Mapeza have made the selection job easy for the panel, the biggest challenge yet is to choose the other 10 players to make it on the Soccer Stars calendar.
This year, many players have struggled for consistency and football fans wait with bated breaths to see who will make it onto the final list.
In this issue, The Sports Hub reveals who we think will join Chinyengetere on the Soccer Stars calendar.
Barring any technicalities, Nhamo is the obvious choice for first runner-up position after an outstanding season with the team from the Lowveld.
Nhamo netted 14 goals in a season where Triangle played some attractive football in the league to finish in fourth place.
It is extremely difficult to pick who comes after these two players, who have been in a class of their own this season, but it has to be done.
And The Sports Hub believes Farai Madhanhanga had an outstanding season for FC Platinum after fitting perfectly into the shoes of Gerald Takwara, who left the club in January to join Ajax Cape town in South Africa.
The former Harare City hardman stabilised things in the midfield area for the Zvishavane-based champions, effective going forward scoring seven vital goals and providing an impenetrable shield to the defence.
So the top three finalists should read Chinyengetere, Nhamo and Madhanhanga.
Ngezi Platinum, who finished second in the league, lacked one consistent performer throughout the season. After a brilliant start to the season, the campaign went off rail following the departure of Terrence Dzvukamanja midseason.
Dzvukamanja should make the list, his eight goals in the first half of the season making him the eighth highest scorer in the league despite playing less than half the matches.
Playing his first full season in the league, Michael Charamba had a blistering start to the season for Ngezi, but struggled with injuries midway through the year.
But his one goal and 16 assists should make room for him on the Soccer Stars calendar.
Top goalscorer at the halfway stage David Temwanjera had deserved to be among the best of the season, especially considering that the bulk of his strikes came while he was playing for relegated Shabanie. He was threatening to run away with the Golden Boot early on, but settled for third best overall.
A mid-season move to ZPC Kariba and subsequent lack of game-time killed his momentum.
With a bit more composure, Black Rhinos’ Lot Chiwunga should take the Golden Boot every season and despite scoring just nine goals, Chiwunga scraps through into The Sports Hub list.
Harare City were supposed to be playing division one football this season, but thanks to How Mine pulling out on the eve of the season opener, they remained in the top flight.
The Harare City season uncovered a gem in young prodigy Tatenda Tumba. He was Harare City’s best performer more often than not whenever he was thrown into the fray.
He showed maturity, confidence and football intelligence beyond his age.
Obrey Chirinda of Chicken Inn was player of the month for July and he has been impressive for Chicken Inn since the return of coach Joey Antipas before the start of the league season.
Chicken Inn ranked third in the league going to last round of matches.
FC Platinum’s defence was once again key to the team’s title glory, leaking just 14 goals, a league record, and Raphael Muduviwa was an ever-present feature at the back. Overshadowed by Kevin Moyo, Muduviwa barely put a foot wrong this season and makes the Sports Hub list this year.
There was no goalkeeper on the Soccer Stars calendar last year, but surely it will change this year. A number of goalkeepers shone in between the sticks such as Highlanders’ Ariel Sibanda, Harare City’s Ryan Harrison and Donovan Bernard of Ngezi.
The goalkeepers’ award goes to Bernard, who helped Ngezi finish second in the league.
Other players like Dynamos’ Godfrey Mukambi, Yadah FC’s Ralph Matema, Innocent Muchaneka (Chicken Inn), Gabriel Nyoni (Highlanders) and Ralph Kawondera from Triangle did well during the season.
Sport Hub Soccer Stars
Rodwell Chinyengetere, Lameck Nhamo, Farai Madhanhanga, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Michael Charamba, David Temwanjera, Lot Chiwunga, Tatenda Tumba, Obrey Chirinda, Raphael Muduviwa, Donovan Bernard.