DeMbare unlikely to mark Shaya’s milestone
Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
FIFTY years after George Shaya set the benchmark for the Soccer Star of the Year award, Dynamos are unlikely to celebrate that milestone achievement with one of their players winning the top gong.
The Mastermind won the inaugural gong in 1969.
The country’s biggest and most successful football club, only had one player — striker Evans Katema — nominated among the 2019 Soccer Stars of the Year.
The dreadlocked forward, who arrived midway through the season, appears to have won his place as a result of his exploits for relegated Mushowani Stars.
This means that, for the second year running, none of the players who started the season at DeMbare were deemed good enough to make it among the 11 Soccer Stars of the Year.
It’s another massive statement about the quality, or lack thereof among players who have been fighting in the trenches for these Glamour Boys in the past two years.
The last players, who started the season at Dynamos and made it onto the Soccer Stars of the Year calendar, were Ocean Mushure and Cameroonian forward Christian Epoupa two years ago.
Half-a-dozen years have passed now since a Glamour Boy won the award when Tawanda Muparati was named the winner in 2013.
The previous year, Denver Mukamba had won the same award.
And, with goalkeeper Washington Arubi having been crowned king in 2011, it completed a hat-trick of winners for the Harare giants.
However, only four DeMbare players have been crowned kings, at an average of once every six years — in the last 24 years.
This represent the worst showing by the Glamour Boys when it comes to this award.
Their fans will, probably, argue that their biggest city rivals, CAPS United, have only provided five winners — Stewart Murisa (1996), Energy Murambadoro (2003), Cephas Chimedza (2004), Joseph Kamwendo (2005) and Hardlife Zvirekwi (2016) — during the same period.
The Green Machine midfielder, Joel Ngodzo, was a very popular choice during the voting process yesterday.
And, should he win the award this year, he will be Makepekepe’s second winner in the last three years, while DeMbare would still be waiting for a winner in five years.
In the first decade of this award, Shaya, was crowned Soccer Star of the Year five times, including three years in a row in 1975, 1976 and 1977, in what was a ruthless domination of the gong.
The Mastermind also won the inaugural one in 1969 and in 1972.
In the second decade of this award, between 1980 and 1981, three Dynamos players — David Mandigora (1980), Japhet M’parutsa (1981) and Moses Chunga (1986) — won the Soccer Star of the Year gong.
Some analysts argue Chunga would have won this award, more than once, had he not first fallen foul of disciplinary issues, before he finally captured it.
And, had he also not moved to Belgium — at the peak of his athletic powers — just after being crowned the king.
The same argument is also advanced when it comes to Peter Ndlovu, regarded by many as the greatest Zimbabwean footballer of all-time.
He first won the award as a 17-year-old in 1990, before capturing it again, the following year, despite playing just half the season.
The Flying Elephant was snatched by English side Coventry City in 1991 and, had he remained on the domestic football scene throughout the ‘90s, analysts argue he could have scooped the award more than five times.
After the 11 Soccer Stars of the Year were announced yesterday, some DeMbare fans questioned how their goalkeeper Simba Chinani, who has been making the Warriors’ squad, failed to make it onto the list.
They questioned how Chinani could have been overlooked while Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda was one of the popular names for the panellists?
However, Sibanda, who has kept 16 clean sheets in the Premiership campaign this season, and has also been one of Highlanders’ leading scorers with his conversions from the penalty spot, appears to have impressed the voters more given performances in the league carry more weight.
Sibanda has 19 clean sheets in all competitions this season and is one of the reasons Bosso could end the campaign with a major silverware in their cabinet should they win the Chibuku Super Cup at Barbourfields tomorrw.
However, it’s not a rule that only one goalkeeper should be on the calendar given there can be as many goalkeepers as possible if they did better than the in-field players.
The Bulawayo giants host Ngezi Platinum in the final.
Dynamos right-back, Emmanuel Jalai, has been one of the Glamour Boys’ outstanding players in what has largely been a frustrating season for them.
Yesterday, some of their fans were wondering why the roving wing-back was not considered for the Rookie of the Year award but that gong goes to players who would still be Under-20, at the time of the selection panel meets.
Jalai turned 20 during the course of the season.