The year 2013 is coming to an end, and for the many Zimbabwean football players plying their trade beyond the country’s borders, it has been an absolutely wonderful year for some, but for others, one to forget quickly.
An honourable citing should immediately be made of Czech Republic-based Costa Nhamoinesu who had what was arguably the best year of his career since he left the country for Europe in 2007.
The former AmaZulu and Masvingo United left-back arrived at Sparta Prague at the start of the season on a free transfer from Polish side Zaglebie Lubin, where he had spent five years.
Before that, the 27-year-old had spent just a season at lowly KS Wisła Ustronianka also of Polish, but his enormous talents were quickly noticed by that country’s leading club Lubin who went on to afford him a chance to play in the Uefa Europa League. After the expiry of his five-year tenure, Prague came knocking and he was off to the Czech capital.
He has proved to be the best Zimbabwean player abroad this year, having featured in all the 16 league games that his team played this far. He capped it all by being named the League’s Player of the Month for November in his debut season.
The club, famed for producing stars such as Chelsea’s Peter Cech, Arsenal’s Thomas Rosicky and Juventus legend Pavel Nedved, is unbeaten on those games with 13 wins and three draws to open a five-point gap at the top of the Czech Liga — thus Champions League football is imminent for Nhamoinesu next season.
Quincy Antipas is also having a good season with his club Danish club Brondby. He has made 15 appearances in the team’s 18 games so far, starting 13.
The midfielder has scored one goal. Brondby, who spent the better part of last season fighting relegation, are currently fourth with just four games to play. As it stands now, the Warriors midfielder will be playing in the Uefa Europa League next season.
Nearer home, striker Cuthbert Malajila has also quickly adapted to life at South African Premiership giants Mamelodi Sundowns, having crossed the floor from fellow South African side Maritzburg United at the start of the season.
With 14 games played, just under halfway through the season, the former Dynamos hitman has netted five goals, and lies third on the scoring charts. He is three behind leading scorer Bernard Parker of Kaizer Chiefs whose team has played a game more than Sundowns.
Malajila, who finished third on the scoring charts last season with 11 goals, has started in 13 of Sundowns’ games this season.
Khama Billiat, another new season signing for Sundowns from Ajax Cape Town, has also acquitted himself this far. The 23-year-old has started in 10 matches for the Brazilians, missing the other three matches though injury. He has weighed in with three goals, and is fourth in the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot race.
Warriors’ grafter Willard Katsande has continued to impress for Chiefs.
He has played in 13 of the 14 games this season, missing one through suspension and has been rewarded with a three-year contract.
Onismor Bhasera was widely criticised for leaving Europe for the South African Premiership, and as was expected, he immediately fitted into the Wits University squad since joining the club in the July transfer window.
He has played in eight matches for the club this season.
Then there are those players that can be classified as having an average season so far. Top of that list is Knowledge Musona. Just like Bhasera, he also moved from Europe — from the German Bundesliga — to Kaizer Chiefs on a one-year loan from Hoffenheim.
His arrival in the Super Diski generated a lot of expectations, but the striker has not really lived up to that billing. This has been mainly due to an injury he sustained at the start of the season though.
He has featured in 10 league games for Chiefs, scoring four goals.
Goalkeeper Washington Arubi has also been doing his job quietly at Pretoria University, having played in all 15 league games and conceded 13 goals to help his side to ninth position going into the New Year.
Other players who can fall into this category include Lincoln Zvasiya who is on loan at Greek club OFI Crete, Kingston Nkhata of Chiefs, Terrance Mandaza of Maritzburg, Bhasera’s teammate Benjani Mwaruwari, Carrington Nyadombo of AmaZulu, Archford Gutu who is based in Sweden, Charlton Athletic’s Bradley Pritchard, Nyasha Mushekwi who is on loan at KV Oostende in Belgium and Mike Temwanjira who has played 17 of the 19 games for his Romanian club Vaslui.
And the flops of the year were: Ovidy Karuru, Denver Mukamba and Rodreck Mutuma. Karuru has not featured for OH Leuven this season, while Mukamba has failed to justify his much publicised move to Wits having played in just four games so far.
The same goes for Mutuma. He has featured in seven games for Bloemfontein Celtic this season, scoring two goals. Mathew Rusike has also failed to command a jersey at Chiefs, featuring in just one game this season.
Takesure Chinyama has also struggled at Platinum Stars, having featured in three of the 14 games his side has played this season, but has two trophies to his name.
Veteran Esrom Nyandoro has featured in two games for Sundowns after a return from injury.
Vusa Nyoni has completed just 433 minutes from a possible 1 800 this term for his Belgian club Mons who are anchoring the log.