AFTER a season where a number of players shone brightly in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, the unveiling of the player deemed outstanding in tonight’s Soccer Stars banquet will be an interesting affair.
Over the years, picking the most outstanding player of the season has been rather easy, but this time, a number of players put their hands up.
The banquet will be held at a hotel in Harare, with the competition seemingly stiff for the top gong.
The favourites for the top honours are Dynamos playmaker Donald Mudadi, who had an illustrious season for the Glamour Boys although the club ended the campaign on position three on the log table behind eventual champions Ngezi Platinum Stars and Manica Diamonds.
His colleague Tanaka Shandirwa is also one player who had a remarkable season, only to be blighted by injuries towards the end of the campaign and the ginger-haired hard-tackling midfielder missed a couple of games due to suspension.
Also tipped to win the top gong is Bulawayo Chiefs’ marksman Obriel Chirinda with 12 goals in the bag.
He also missed a few games due to injuries but stood out while playing for a club bedevilled by a financial crisis that saw players going into matches without training.
Highlanders defender Andrew Mbeba is a dark horse for the top award after a spectacular season that saw him score crucial goals for the Bulawayo giants through set pieces. He also provided a number of assists for the club that later fizzled out along the way in its championship quest.
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Champions Ngezi Platinum Stars goalkeeper Nelson Chadya, who was last year’s Goalkeeper of the Year, has 17 clean sheets this year, a feat that aided his club into winning the league, is also tipped to be among the country’s top three players.
He is, however, two clean sheets behind Highlanders veteran shot-stopper Ariel Sibanda, who also made it into the country’s best 11, but is unlikely to be in the top three.
Chicken Inn’s Michael Charamba also had a splendid season, banging in 10 goals for The GameCocks, one behind his teammate Malvin Hwata, who did not make it to the calendar of stars.
The Golden Boot winner, Takunda Benhura, who scored 13 goals and inspired his side to their first-ever title, is another candidate for the top three gong.
Other players that made it to the calendar are Ngezi Platinum skipper Qadr Amini, Manica Diamonds top scorer Fortune Binzi and Herentals’ Tinotenda Benza.
The Coach of the Year award is likely to go to Takesure Chiragwi of Ngezi Platinum, with Manica Diamonds’ Jairos Tapera challenging.
Contenders for the Most Promising Player award are Benhura and Highlanders’ Prince Ndlovu. Also to be announced tonight will be the Referee of the Year.