AS expected, champions FC Platinum provided the bulk of players on this year’s eleven Soccer Stars of the Year finalists, in a list that had no representatives from Dynamos for the first time in over a decade.
BY HENRY MHARA/TERRY MADYAUTA
The Zvishavane-based team, who defended the league title, provided three players in midfielders Rodwell Chinyengetere and Farai Madhananga, and defender Kelvin Moyo.
Godknows Murwira and Michael Charamba are representatives of the league runners-up Ngezi Platinum Stars, while Triangle, who finished fourth on the log table, also has two players, Lameck Nhamo and Phineas Bhamusi, on the list. Chicken Inn’s Innocent Mucheneka also made the cut, and so did David Temwanjira of ZPC Kariba.
The country’s three traditional giants, Dynamos, Caps United and Highlanders, struggled this term and never mounted a challenge for honours. Their struggles were reflected on the list, with only one player each from Caps United and Highlanders chosen and good enough to make the grade. Dynamos had none.
Joel Ngodzo was picked as the only one who shone brightest for the Green Machine and the fact that a goalkeeper, Ariel Sibanda, was chosen the outstanding player for Bosso this season tells the story.
Dynamos spent almost the entire season fighting for survival in the league, and it was by no surprise that not a single of their players was regarded good enough. This is only the second time since 1969 that the Harare giants have failed to provide a player on the calendar. The other time was in 2005. Dynamos coach Lloyd Chigowe said he was not bitter that his team was not represented on the stars’ list.
“I will not begrudge the selection process; it reflects the season that has just ended that we (Dynamos) were huffing and puffing on the way to survival, and not been fighting for honours. We were nowhere near the winners’ podium, so for us to expect Dynamos to be represented on the calendar would be to expect bias to prevail,” Chigowe said.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas, whose side finished third on the log standings felt that his team should have had more representation on the list.
“It’s every coach’s wish to have his players rewarded for playing well. There was intense competition throughout the season, but I am happy that Innocent (Mucheneka) made it, although I also feel that Obrey Chirinda deserved to be selected as well because he has been key for us. He has some very interesting statistics, which should have been considered. But generally, most of the players who made it on to the list deserved to be there, especially the trio from FC Platinum. They are very good,” Antipas said.
Triangle coach Taurai Mangwiro, who has revolutionised the Lowveld side, could not have asked for more.
“For the first time, Triangle has two players on the calendar, which makes us one of the best teams in the league. Our achievements this season speak for themselves,” Mangwiro, who also guided the team to a Chibuku Super Cup triumph, which comes with a ticket to represent the country in the Caf Confederations Cup next year, said.
He added: “Lameck (Nhamo) and Phineas (Bhamusi) have been outstanding for us, and they deserve it. But their success belongs to us as a club, not as individuals because they play in a team. The list is a fair reflection of how the players performed throughout the season.”
The eleven finalists were voted in by a panel of football writers, coaches and the league teams’ captains in Harare yesterday.
From the eleven, three most outstanding players – the Soccer Star of the Year and his two runners up – were selected, although their identity will only be revealed at a banquet on Friday next week.
Chinyengetere, who will pick the Golden Boot Award after scoring 16 league goals, is odds favourite to get the top gong, which he won last year.
Coach and Rookie and Referee of the Year are also going to be revealed at the event. FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is also expected to defend the Coach of the Year accolade which he lifted last year.