THE 11 Soccer Star of the Year finalists were announced on Tuesday amid heated debate regarding the selection criteria used.
A panel of journalists, team captains and coaches, and other football stakeholders including the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe, met virtually to vote for the 11 best players they thought excelled in the just-ended season.
Soccer Star of the Year, his two runners-up, Coach of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year as well as the Most Promising Player under the age of 20 were also voted in, but their names will only be revealed at a banquet in Harare tomorrow.
Premier Soccer League champions Ngezi Platinum Stars, predictably provided the highest number of players on the list, with their three stars, captain Qadr Amini, goalkeeper Nelson Chadya and Takunda Benhura all making it on to the “calendar”.
While consensus within the local football community is that this year’s list is generally a fair reflection of how players performed, former Soccer Star of the Year finalist Norman Maroto believes the current selection criteria, which just picks the best 11 players regardless of positions they play in the field, should be changed as it favours attacking midfielders and strikers.
The former Warriors and Dynamos striker wants players to be selected based on their playing positions.
“I feel there is need to change the criteria on how we choose our best 11 players,” Maroto said.
“The selection criteria we have currently favours the strikers and attacking midfielders for obvious reasons.
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“They score the most goals for their teams, so naturally they are loved by the supporters and are popular with the media. They dominate the headlines week in and out.”
Of the 11 best players that were picked this week, five are either attacking midfielders or strikers.
There are two goalkeepers, Chadya and Ariel Sibanda, while Andrew Mbeba and Amini, the latter operating as a winger most of the times last term, emerging as the only defenders on the list.
Dynamos midfielders Donald Mudadi and Tanaka Shandirwa were the only defensive midfielders voted in.
“To be fair, and if possible, let’s have a list that has the best 11 chosen according to positions that they play,” Maroto said.
“Let’s have a list that has something like one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three strikers. That way we have a fair representation of all the players because all the departments will be represented.”
2023 Soccer Stars of the Year finalists
Nelson Chadya, Ariel Sibanda, Qadr Amini, Andrew Mbeba, Tanaka Shandirwa, Donald Mudadi, Tino Benza, Michael Charamba, Fortune Binzi, Takunda Benhura, Obriel Chirinda