2023 SOCCER STARS . . . The unlucky eleven Rodwell Chinyengetere

Sports Reporter

The 2023 Soccer Star of the Year finalists are set to be crowned in Harare tomorrow amidst mixed feelings on who will take the ultimate crown home. 

A new king of domestic football will be named tomorrow to replace FC Platinum’s Walter Musona who won the gong last year but has failed to make the short-list this year. 

There were no major surprises in the selection of the Best 11 but, as has been the case with the previous selections, debate has erupted over the selection by a panel comprising sports journalists, coaches and club captains. 

It is quite a strenuous job, having to settle for only 11 players from a long list of more than 500 players registered by the clubs for the season. 

This is probably why it is difficult to reach consensus on who the best eleven were. After the names were announced, some football enthusiasts felt that there were players who made it ahead of those whom they thought deserved to be there.

There were also some players that came close but could not garner enough votes. 

Tinashe Balakasi (Simba Bhora):

The forward started the season low, without seeing much game time at the Shamva side despite having encouraging records from the second tier where he scooped the Boot with record goals. 

Balakasi netted an unprecedented 29 goals to help the Shamva-based side win the Ruyamuro Northern Region Division One championship. 

The moment he was given the opportunity in the top tier, he grabbed it with both hands and scored 10 goals in just 23 appearances. His goals helped save the team from relegation. 

Rodwell Chinyengetere:

The two-time Soccer Star of the Year answered the call when CAPS United needed a hero to rescue their sinking ship. 

Chinyengetere was very instrumental in Makepekepe’s survival in a season that their coach Lloyd Chitembwe described as “terrible”. The giants started well but somehow found themselves flirting with relegation in the second half of the campaign. But the 35-year-old took it upon himself with a goal in almost every match towards the back end of the campaign, to finish on eight goals. Eventually Makepekepe finished in the top eight. 

Emmanuel Jalai and Junior Makunike:

Jalai’s 33 appearances make him one of the busiest players this season. The Dynamos vice-captain has been consistent in defence which was clearly the best in the Premiership this year. The Glamour Boys conceded the least goals — 16. Jalai also weighed in with a goal and two assists. Makunike, the 19-year-old defensive midfielder, was also part of this defence wall and making key interceptions. He rose to the occasion when the situation demanded and was on the DeMbare team sheet in 31 of their 34 games. 

Mbongeni Ndlovu / Peter Muduhwa:

The Highlanders defence also had impressive statistics and at some point conceding only four goals as the team went on a 19-match unbeaten run. But the second half of the season was difficult for them. Fair, goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda and defender Andrew Mbeba made it on the final XI. Bosso had the second best defence after conceding 22 goals. 

Gareth Madhake / Kudzai Chigwida

The same could be said of Ngezi Platinum’s Gareth Madhake and Kudzai Chigwida, who formed the backbone of the Mhondoro side’s defence. Ngezi conceded 23 goals in 34 outings, with the duo playing crucial roles in the rearguard. 

Marlvin Hwata

The Chicken Inn forward had a decent outing especially in the second half. He backed his performances with 11 goals of his own and had ghosted in the picture for the Golden Boot award. 

Davison Marowa:

He scored seven goals for Herentals and had a handful of assists for the team, as they finished sixth in the race. Marowa was one of the most consistent players for the Students, operating the wings with aplomb. 

Unfortunately, he will not be among the XI finalists tomorrow.

The Herald’s PSL unlucky XI:

Tinashe Balakasi, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Emmanuel Jalai, Gareth Madhake, Marlvin Hwata, Mbongeni Ndlovu, Peter Muduhwa, Davison Marowa, Kudzai Chigwida, Walter Musona, Junior Makunike

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