BY HENRY MHARA
CAPS United midfield maestro Joel Ngodzo finally laid his hands on the Soccer Star of the Year gong after he scooped the big award at a banquet held in Harare last night.
Ngodzo missed the title in 2010 when he was voted the second best to Charles Sibanda.
His form took a surprise nosedive after that, but while he has not hit the form that he showed at Highlanders, he has resurrected his career, and he finally scooped the big one.
He was rewarded for an outstanding season in leading his side, who are on the brink of winning the title.
On top of his midfield job, he has also weighed in with 10 goals.
Second runner-up position went to Triangle defensive midfield Ralph Kawondera, who has also led his team from the midfield position. He has also scored 10 goals for his club.
In third position was Highlanders’ striker Prince Dube, who was probably rewarded for his late upsurge of form, and scoring crucial goals for his club.
Dube’s teammate and goalkeeper, Ariel Sibanda, was named the Goalkeeper of the Year, to successfully defend the title he won last year, and also add to being included in the best 11 players of the season.
Sibanda played well for Highlanders, and kept 15 clean sheets for his club. But some critics would feel that there are other goalkeepers who played better than him.
Nelson Chadya of Ngezi Platinum Stars has kept 13 clean sheets in 26 matches and conceded just 16 goals in those matches.
In comparison, Sibanda has conceded 21 goals in 31 matches. FC Platinum has conceded just 15 goals the whole season, but their goalkeepers, Petros Mhari and Francis Tizayi, could not even make the best 11 players of the season.
Joey Antipas was another surprise winner after he was voted the Coach of the Year.
The Chicken Inn mentor, who is also the Warriors gaffer, beat competition from the likes of Lloyd Chitembwe, Norman Mapeza, Lizwe Sweswe and Darlington Dodo.
Many had expected the gong to go to either Chitembwe or Mapeza for building a foundation for which log leaders Caps United and second placed Fc Platinum, went on to use in their current title fight.
Mapeza left FC Platinum for South Africa, while Chitembwe crossed the floor to Harare City, but they both left their sides on health ground.
Some thought the two men’s predecessors in Dodo for the Caps United and Sweswe, who now coaches FC Platinum, would be recognised for what they have done to keep their clubs at the top.
Antipas’ team, which started the season well, ran out of steam midway. They are currently third on the log standings, and although it still has a good chance to win the title, it will need Caps United and FC Platinum to stumble in the last two rounds of matches to snatch the Premiership.
The Most Promising Player of the Year award deservedly went to Highlanders defender Andrew Mbeba for the outstanding season the young man has had with Bosso.
The 19-year-old has defied his young age to establish himself in the heart of the Bulawayo giants’ defence. He completed Highlanders’ dominance on the awards podium.
Soccer Star of the Year: Joel Ngodzo
First runner-up: Ralph Kawondera
Second runner-up: Prince Dube
Goalkeeper of the Year: Ariel Sibanda
Most Promising Player of the Year: Andrew Mbeba
Coach of the Year: Joey Antipas
Referee of the Year: Brighton Chimene
Referee of the Year first runner-up: Salam Ncube
Referee of the year second runner-up: Faith Muloyi
Eleven finalists: Joel Ngodzo, Phineas Bamusi, Ariel Sibanda, Prince Dube, Evans Katema, Ralph Kawondera, King Nadolo, Never Tigere, Clive Augusto, Ian Nekati, Wellington Taderera