FOOTBALL fans in Bulawayo have tipped either Dynamos midfielder Denver Mukamba or Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda to win the coveted 2012 Castle Lager Footballer of the Year award.
REPORT BY SUKOLUHLE MTHETHWA SPORTS REPORTER
Sports writers and coaches from around the country meet tomorrow in Harare to select this year’s 11 finalists.
Despite the 11 finalists being chosen tomorrow, the Footballer of the Year and the runners-up will be announced at a banquet to be held early next month in Harare.
A fan from Sizinda suburb, Nigel Mhlanga, said Mukamba should snatch the top award.
“Denver Mukamba will win this year’s award. He has played very well and has scored many crucial goals for Dynamos. I am a Highlanders fan, but I am going to be fair. Mukamba deserves it because he has been scoring week in, week out,” he said.
“Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda has also done well. He is young and is the future of Zimbabwe football.
“He has made crucial saves that have kept Highlanders chasing the championship. Masimba Mambare deserves to make it as well because he has also been playing well. He was rejected by Motor Action, but he played well and proved his former team wrong,” Mhlanga said.
Naison Mwale from Bradfield said: “Mukamba played very good football. I am a Highlanders supporter, but I think Mukamba deserves the award. He knows how to take on defenders and also how to create space and score as well.”
Another fan, Lethukuthula Hleza from Nkulumane, said Sibanda should make it onto this year’s calendar, but tipped either Mukamba or Mambare for the top award.
“Sibanda managed to save Highlanders from some defeats. Highlanders have lost once in the league so far and lost in the Mbada Cup quarter-final against Monomotapa. He contested for a place in the Warriors line-up and he did not disappoint fans. He is a young player who has a bright future,” he said.
“Mambare and Mukamba should make it into the list. They both scored vital goals for their teams. Mambare was instrumental when Highlanders beat Caps United 2-0 in Harare and also scored when Highlanders won 1-0 over Hwange.”
Imon Ncube from New Magwegwe heaped praise on Sibanda.
“Sibanda deserves to be selected. He has played very well and Highlanders has not conceded many goals.
“He has commanded a first team jersey from the start of the season until now and has also commanded his defence well. Mambare played well and destroyed most teams in the league,” he said.
Ncube said Highlanders captain Innocent Mapuranga and his vice Erick Mudzingwa, Mthulisi Maphosa, Mukamba, Shabanie Mine striker Nelson Mazivisa and Hwange’s Rodwell Chinyengetere could also have a strong bearing in the list.
However, for the evergreen Mudzingwa, his greatest undoing has been the six yellow cards that he accumulated this year that make him ineligible for the vote.
Mpumelelo Phiri from Nketa 9 said Mambare and Sibanda should be selected, while Jonathan Matare from Hillside said Mukamba had been outstanding.
Jacqueline Zulu seemed to be the odd-one-out among fans interviewed. She said veteran Hwange striker Gilbert Zulu had played well and should be on the calendar.