Eddie Chikamhi and Ellina Mhlanga
FOR the first time in over a decade, giants Dynamos have failed to contribute a player to the Castle Lager Premier Soccer Stars of the Year calendar, after the best 11 players in the just-ended season were unveiled yesterday, with champions FC Platinum dominating the list.
The champions contributed three players, who included midfielder Farai Madhananga and the Warriors pair of defender Kelvin Moyo and reigning Soccer Star Rodwell Chinyengetere.
Chinyengetere is the odds-on favourite for another gong this year.
The winner, his two runners-up and the Coach of the Year will be unveiled at a special banquet next Friday.
League runners-up Ngezi Platinum have two players — Godknows Murwira and Michael Charamba — as do Chibuku Super Cup winners Triangle, who capped a commendable season in which they finished a credible fourth.
Triangle have Phineas Bhamusi and Nhamo Lameck among the finalists.
Innocent Mucheneka, who was recently voted Chicken Inn’s player of the season, David Temwanjira of ZPC Kariba also made the list.
But the traditional giants Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United have continued to struggle.
Bosso provided goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda and midfielder Joel Ngodzo was the only CAPS United player, with both men’s selection largely surprising given that there were a number of players who performed better and more consistently than them throughout the season.
However, for only the second time since 1969 when the awards were launched, there was no Dynamos player among the Soccer Star of the Year finalists.
The only other time this had happened was in 2005 when the Harare giants had to fight tooth and nail to survive relegation, and only managing to do so on the final day of the season with a 2-1 victory over Masvingo United at a rain-soaked Mucheke Stadium.
Then, as now, DeMbare were also staring relegation and just managed to guarantee safety with just three games remaining.
Dynamos coach Lloyd Chigowe yesterday said the selection was a true reflection of the situation on the ground. He also gave an honest assessment of his team which had a subdued season and only started showing up late into the campaign.
“I would think it’s a true reflection of the season just ended. There are teams that had very good performers and those performers have been rewarded today.
“As for Dynamos, the quality is not overall bad. There is quite some promising youngsters, but some of them started showing their quality very late and probably we gave them very little game time at the start of the season.
“Youngsters like (Valentine) Kadonzvo; he did very well, but in a short space of time when we fought to get the points to survive relegation.
“I thought Kadonzvo was very brilliant and then also goalkeeper Simbarashe Chinani, but again it was too little and too late.
“The mark of a champion is consistency in the world of football. The more you consistently perform, the more you consistently get results, the more chances that you can become a champion. And Dynamos genes were lacking the championship material.
“We have some players who have no confidence of playing at Rufaro, which is the home of Dynamos. We have players who are away from home when they are at home.
“So, again, we have to address that and have players who know that when they are playing for Dynamos, it’s like they are playing Al Ahly of Egypt or Esperance of Tunisia.
“It’s not about you having to be psyched-up to perform, but you must be a performer in-born,” said Chigowe.
The other categories that were voted for by a panel of experts that included selected journalists, coaches and captains, included the Coach of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and the Most Promising Under-19 Player of the Year.
And from the voting patterns, it seems the holder Chinyengetere is likely to walk away with a double this time around.
The forward has since clinched the Golden Boot award with his 17 goals.
The Zimbabwe international has been one of the few consistent players throughout the season and scored crucial goals for his side on their way to a second league championship on the trot.
Lameck of Triangle finished second on the scoring charts with 15 goals, while Temwanjira was two goals behind.
PSL will also reward the Most Disciplined Team of the Year and the Referee of the Year at the banquet on December 7.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas expressed confidence in the selection, although his side only produced one player, Mucheneka.
“I thought the guys who are there deserved it thoroughly and there is not one player you can say didn’t deserve it, that’s why I think it was a fair and very thorough process.
“Innocent (Mucheneka) deserves it thoroughly, he had a great season. If you look at the Platinum (FC Platinum and Ngezi) players, they all deserved and the guys from Triangle as well,” said Antipas.
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe was excited by the selection.
Although Makepekepe had a poor campaign by their own standards, he strongly believes midfielder Ngodzo was outstanding.
“Without a grain of doubt, I think all those players selected deserve to be there.
“They were outstanding and what makes the (selection) process more credible for me is the fact that when fellow players and coaches have an input, because they have a benchmark of excellency, I certainly believe it’s very credible.
“I thought Josta had a great season and he was without doubt one of our best performers this season. He is one player who played the most number of minutes in our team and that tells you he has been a very special part of the system,” said Chitembwe.
Chapungu coach Rodwell Dhlakama also applauded the outcome of the selection process, which was conducted electronically.
“For me the selection was very fair. I presided over a lot of games and I saw those players performing very well.
“For players like Ariel Sibanda to be on the calendar I think he deserved that.
“Sixteen clean sheets in a season for a goalkeeper, I think that’s no mean achievement,” Dhlakama said.
Black Rhinos coach Herbert Maruwa hailed the selection, but felt his midfielder Donald Mudadi should have made the cut. Harare City’s Moses Muchenje was also tipped for a place following a bright season with the Sunshine Boys, but he missed out.
“It was a good selection except, maybe for some few areas. I am saying this not because he is my player, but I feel a player like Donald Mudadi deserved a place on the calendar.
“But overall, most of the guys selected today (yesterday) did very well and really earned the right to be there,” said Maruwa.
Soccer Star of the Year finalists
Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), David Temwanjira (ZPC Kariba), Farai Madhananga (FC Platinum), Godknows Murwira (Ngezi Platinum), Innocent Mucheneka (Chicken Inn), Joel Ngodzo (CAPS Utd), Kelvin Moyo (FC Platinum), Michael Charamba (Ngezi Platinum), Nhamo Lameck (Triangle), Phineas Bamusi (Triangle), Rodwell Chinyengetere (FC Platinum)