D-DAY FOR SOCCER STAR HOPEFULS
A PANEL of experts that comprises sports journalists, coaches and team captains converges in Harare this morning for the traditional selection of the Castle Lager Soccer Stars of the year. The experts will also select the most outstanding coach in the just ended season, alongside the top goalkeeper and Under-20 Player of the Year. The question is who will make it into the calendar after a season that was decided on the last day with Caps United lifting the title after an 11-year wait? History has shown that the champions often dominate the list and “Makepekepe” are likely to have most of the players selected. Hardlife Zvirekwi who had a consistent season is likely to make it to the list alongside the 2016 top goal scorer Leonard Tsipa. For a team that played as a unit for most of the season it won’t surprise many to see a revived Joel Ngodzo making it to the final list. Other notable performances from the new champions came from central defender Steven Makatuka and left back Ronald Pfumbidzai. Not to be outdone will be the runners up FC Platinum who continued to play a passing game throughout the season. Their goalkeeper Petros Mhari is a firm favourite to be on the list and for the goalkeeper of the year award. Underrated former Hwange midfielder Winston Mhango once more underlined his growing reputation as one of the best anchor-men in the country with another polished season and deserves to be on the list. Walter Musona with nine goals this season was at most of the time, especially in the second half of the season, a joy to watch. Highlanders who finished third are likely to have a couple of names as well claiming recognition. If the monthly awards are anything to go by, the couple of awards picked by Bruce Kangwa before he left for Tanzania should see him on the list. Other players who did well include Rahman Kutsanzira and centre back Peter Muduhwa. There seems to be a growing chorus for the inclusion of Simon “Scholes” Munawa who scored some spectacular goals for Bosso. Young Prince Dube can cap a memorable Premiership debut season with an appearance in the calendar. Former champions Inn did not easily Chicken have an recognisable outstanding player but Moses Jackson continued to impress alongside veteran Obadiah Tarumbwa who finished the season with eight goals as well as Clemence Matawu. Despite a poor season from Dynamos, former Motor Action and Highlanders player Masimba Mambare had one of his best seasons in a blue jersey managing five goals.
Other significant performances came from Xolisani Moyo (Bulawayo City), Liberty Chakoroma (Ngezi Platinum Stars), Makundika Sakala (How Mine), Kudakwashe Gurure (Mutare City) and Hwange top striker Gift Mbweti who managed nine goals.
Unless there is a miraculous voting pattern Lloyd Chitembwe deserves the coach of the year award after he led Caps United to their fifth title overall. Norman Mapeza and Erol Akbay are also in with a shout as well as the Chibuku Super Cup winning mentor Tonderayi Ndiraya.
The young player of the year is likely to go to Prince. In his first year in top flight football coming from Bosso’s Division Two side, Prince scored five goals and provided numerous assists. The 19-year-old also scored a big goal and provided the other as Bosso broke a 10-year jinx in beating Dynamos away at Rufaro stadium.
Mhari remains a firm favourite for the most outstanding goalkeeper after another brilliant season.
Meanwhile, according to the rules and regulations of the selection process, any player that accumulates a total of 10 or more disciplinary points in Castle Lager Premier Soccer League official matches within a single season will be ineligible for selection.
A coach that is expelled from the technical area five or more times in Castle Lager Premier Soccer League official matches within a single season will be ineligible for selection.
“For the avoidance of doubt the following disciplinary points system shall apply;
An expulsion (red card) in an official Castle Lager PSL match shall be equal to two (2) disciplinary points. A single yellow card accumulated in each official Castle Lager PSL match shall be equal to a one (1) disciplinary point. Any player or coach who is convicted by the Zimbabwe Football Association or relevant regulatory body of any doping or match fixing offence shall be ineligible for selection,” reads the selection criteria.