Who will be this year’s soccer star?

William Manondo

WITH the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title already won by FC Platinum, and coach of the year gong heading into Norman Mapeza’s trophy cabinet, few questions remain unanswered.

Chief among the questions that are still begging for answers is: Who is going to emerge as the soccer star of the year?

Dynamos and Chicken Inn are still embroiled in a fight for scraps as they tussle for a second place finish with FC Platinum streets ahead at the top.

The ultimate individual prize is the key question that remains about this season and the discussion is already well into overdrive.

It is perhaps important to point out that most of the stars who have been conferred with the prestigious award have gone on to attract interest from foreign clubs.

Several names of players who distinguished themselves this season have already started to pop up in discussions and sometimes quarrels.

Despite Caps United’s struggles, which have seen them battle the dark forces of relegation for the better part of the campaign, their striker William Manondo — the league’s leading goalscorer with 15 goals at the moment is probably a strong candidate.

He will, however, face stiff competition from other contenders for the top award from the likes of Walter Musona — who  was instrumental in FC Platinum’s league title success netting 12 goals thus far.

Midfielder Blessing Moyo — who was one of the outstanding players at FC Platinum was the team’s engine room as the miners roared to a fourth title on the trot.

The former Dynamos man has enjoyed a stellar season for the Zvishavane-based side and it was his power and influence that led FC Platinum to the winners’ podium this term.

And there is also Thandowenkosi Ngwenya, who shone like a beacon in his first season with FC Platinum, scoring nine goals. He too is a strong contender. Chicken Inn forward Brian Muza — who has scored 11 goals thus far – also had a good season despite the GameCocks eventually failing to win the league title.

It would not be fair if the selectors were to overlook Highlanders forward Devine Mhindirira, one of the players who stood out for the Bulawayo giants with his creativity and passing game.

Bosso might not have had the best of seasons, but Mhindirira has been the silver lining, while Lynoth Chikukwa also had a good season with 11 goals to his name.

The season though has seen stiff competition from goalkeepers, among them Taimon Mvula of Dynamos who has kept 17 clean sheets thus far including last week when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Highlanders. Nelson Chadya of Ngezi Platinum has also kept the same number of clean sheets including the latest match which the platinum miners walloped Tenax 5-0, enhancing their chances of a top-four finish.

Chicken Inn’s Bernard Donovan on 16 clean sheets and FC Platinum’s Wallace Magalane on the same number of clean sheets could also be in contention for either the top prize or the goalkeeper of the year award.

However, while the selectors have a history of overlooking goalkeepers for the top prize, there is likely to be a paradigm shift this time around considering the stiff competition that has been witnessed among goalkeepers this term.

Dynamos defender Frank Mukarati also stood out, while also contributing vital goals for the team, so did Caps United defender Ben Musaka and Gift Bello (FC Platinum) among several others.

For the rookie player of the year, WhaWha’s Jayden Bakare is odds on favourites with nine goals to his name, while Tinotenda Musariranwa of Ngezi Platinum and Dynamos’ Junior Makunike are strong contenders.

And for the coach of the year, it’s hard to imagine anybody else other than Mapeza walking to the podium to collect the prize in a season he led his team against odds to the title after reinventing the squad with new younger players following the departure of seniors.

In 2019, the last time the awards were held before the game went into hibernation due to COVID-19, Joel Ngodzo won the soccer star of the year award with Ralph Kawondera and Prince Dube winning first and second runners-up medals.

Follow Tawanda on Twitter @tafitawa

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