Takudzwa Chitsiga Sports Reporter
JUST three months short of his 36th birthday, David Kutyauripo continues to defy the odds and push footballers half his age into the shade, as he picked up another accolade last night after being named the best player at Harare City.
In a season dominated by veterans, Kutyauripo has been outstanding for the Sunshine Boys, who punched below their weight this year, battling with relegation after a nightmarish start, until they preserved their place in the Premiership with a priceless victory over Chicken Inn, in their final game of the season.
The vastly experienced defender was even voted among the Soccer Stars of the Year, despite his team’s struggles, and was last night rewarded by Harare City with the Player of the Season award and a cool $5 000 for his efforts.
Speed merchant Martin Vengesai part of the Harare City strikeforce that scored 40 goals this season, in what was the second best attack in the league to ZPC Kariba, won the Players’ Player of the Year and took home $4 000.
Defensive midfielder James Jam was voted the most consistent player at the Sunshine Boys and received $3 000, while Osborne Mukuradare, whose wonder goal against Chicken Inn ensured another dance in the Premiership, was the top goal-scorer and took home $2 500.
Big forward Francisco Zekumbawire, who came to the fore in the second half of the season, with some key goals for the team, including a contender for the Goal of the Season against Dynamos, was voted the Most Disciplined Player and received $2 000.
Raymond Uchena was voted the Most Improved Player, while Munyaradzi Nenye-Diro was rewarded for being the most loyal player.
Both took home $1 500 each.
Kutyauripo revealed that he challenged his teammates, ahead of their game against Chicken Inn, for one last charge, after he realised that he was in danger of being named as one of the Soccer Stars of the Year who took his team into Division One.
As Harare City captain, Kutyauripo was part of the selection process for the Soccer Stars of the Year.
“I had the opportunity to attend the Soccer Stars of the year selection and the moment I realised that I was one of the finalists it gave me strength to return and fight for our survival,” Kutyauripo said.
“I was with the team in camp when I attended the Soccer Stars selection and when I returned, knowing that I was part of those who did well this season, I challenged my teammates.
“It was not going to be easy for me as captain, and chosen among the best players, to be seen going to Division One.
“It was everyone’s wish that the team remained in the top-flight and I am happy with the support we received even from the supporters, they were rallying us on.
“Our focus now would be preparing for next season, knowing that we will still be in the top-flight league.”
Harare City also unveiled their Official Yearbook for 2014 at last night’s function.
In the Yearbook, the club patron Bernard Manyenyeni, who is the Mayor of the City of Harare, said he was with the team in spirit throughout their challenges this season.
“The 2014 soccer curtain has finally come down, leaving us to tell the tales of a Sunshine Boy for 2015. For me, it was not just the joy of watching the few games that I attended, I was with the team in spirit throughout every minute in the three-stage drama we went through,” he said in his message.
“Despite our worrying start to the 2014 season, we were later seen fighting for honours in the Chibuku Super Cup where we were denied glory in the final minute.
“The battle for 2015 playing rights also went into extra-time. The relegation zone was really over-crowded — the rest is history.
“To the team management and players (old and new), I thank you for your energies in 2014 and wish you a Merry Christmas. I extend best wishes for a better 2015 playing season.”
The chairman of the team’s board of trustees, City of Harare Town Clerk Tendai Machachi, said the club should turn itself into the one to beat in the Premiership.
“Harare City should become the team to beat and not fight relegation. With what we have done (appointing Taurai Mangwiro as head coach), we have already fired the warning shots and it is important that the team becomes competitive as that will attract sponsors,” Mahachi said in their Official Yearbook.
“If the team becomes a brand, corporate entities would then want to be associated with it and that is what I expect Harare City to be like.
“If we can manage to lure the sponsors, it will be easy to expose our team to other countries. As Harare City, we have Munich in Germany, which is our sister City, and we will be happy if we produce players who can at one point go and play there.
“We will have exchange programmes with teams like Bayern Munich if we take the junior development programme seriously.
“I believe the step we have taken is in the right direction and we will see a different Harare City altogether.”
Club secretary-general Matthew Marara said his team remained united despite the challenges they faced last season.
“In all the trials and tribulations of 2014, we remained a united family in pursuit of football glory,” said Marara.
“Indeed, we were duly rewarded by reaching the Chibuku Super Cup final and surviving relegation.
“Going forward, we are now in full throttle preparing for 2015. In our endeavours, we wish to see brighter prospects. To this end, we have enhanced our technical bench and will definitely strengthen our squad with the belief that success is not a coincidence, but a result of thorough planning, dedication, focus and resoluteness.”
The Sunshine Boys said in their Yearbook that they were a team that simply had too much quality to go down and this was highlighted by the fact that they were the second highest scoring team in the league.
“Even in a difficult year, there is always something special about Harare City Football Club,” the club said in their Yearbook.
“Incredibly, despite all the challenges we encountered this season, only one team in the entire Castle Lager Premiership scored more goals than us.
“Only one team, among the 16 teams in the domestic Premiership, had a strikeforce that can be considered to be better than our strikeforce.
“We scored 40 goals, in 30 league matches in 2014, and only ZPC Kariba, who finished in second place in the championship race, scored more goals.”
Harare City awards
Player of the Year: DAVID KUTYAURIPO $5 000
Player’s Players of the Year: MARTIN VENGESAI $4 000
Most Consistent Player: JAMES JAM $3 000
Top Goalscorer: OSBORNE MUKURADARE $2 500
Most Disciplined Player: FRANCISCO ZEKUMBAWIRE $2000
Most Improved Player: Raymond Uchena $1 500
Most Loyal Player: Munyaradzi Nyenye-Diro $1 500
Rookie Player of the Year: TALENT CHAWAPIHWA $1 500.