Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter
This was dubbed his comeback year!
And last night, Walter Musona capped a memorable season with FC Platinum after he was crowned Soccer Star of the Year at a glittering ceremony held at the Newlands Country Club in Harare last night.
The forward, who turns 27 years next week, was the toast of the night after he scooped the top prize which carried a US$5 000 cheque.
“I want to thank my team for helping me achieve this. I also want to thank my coach for the opportunity he gave me to play. I also want to extend my thanks to my mother and my sister for being there for me,” said Musona.
Forward William Manondo defied the odds faced by his team throughout the year to come out as the first runner-up.
Manondo walked home with a US$3 000 prize for his efforts.
In fact, the 31-year-old had a particularly rewarding evening as he also won the Top Goal Scorer award which carried an extra cash incentive of US$2 000.
Dynamos defender Frank Makarati was the second runner-up and he got US$2 500.
Nelson Chadya of Ngezi Platinum Stars was crowned Goalkeeper of the Year for his 19 clean sheets.
The Coach of the Year, which had been a clear one-horse race, went to FC Platinum’s Norman Mapeza.
The former Zimbabwe international landed his third Coach of the Year career award after comfortably leading the platinum miners to their fourth league title on the trot.
He had a brilliant season as he won the Coach of the Month accolade four times during the campaign.
Herentals’ Tinotenda Benza was a surprise winner for the new category for the Fans Choice Award.
A total of 9 179 football fans voted online and the young Herentals forward was announced the supporters’ favourite.
Whawha may have been relegated but young forward Jayden Barake had some consolation after he deservedly won the Most Promising Player of the Year.
Martin Chivandire was announced Referee of the Year for the first time, with Faith Mloyi and Tafadzwa Nkala the first and second runners-up in that order.
The organisers also honoured veteran journalist and former Herald Senior Sports Editor, Robson Shuruko, who has been part of the event for the last 30 years.
Guest of honour Benson Martin Dube, who is the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation, congratulated the winners and hailed PSL and their sponsors for running the event successfully for over five decades.
Delta Beverages Marketing Director Irimayi Muzorewa emphasised the company’s commitment to supporting football.
Musona was always the favourite to land the top gong following a brilliant homecoming season in Zvishavane where he was part of the championship winning crew.
But for Manondo, emerging as the runner up was a big achievement on its own, considering his team spent almost the entire season in the bottom half of the table.
Makepekepe were at some point seriously involved in the relegation matrix, apart from the several off-field distractions.
Despite the odds, they have a player on the calendar.
Manondo was the only CAPS United player among the 11 finalists selected by a hybrid panel comprising 50 sports journalists, 18 coaches and as many captains from all the PSL clubs a few days ago.
He demonstrated excellent individual talent at CAPS United after crossing the floor from Harare City early in the season. He finished the season with 17 goals.
His goal when he arrived at Makepekepe was to breach the 20-goal mark, something that has not been done by any local player since Norman Maroto’s 22-goal haul in 2010.
But Manondo’s potency has come to be overshadowed by the rebirth of Musona at FC Platinum this season. The forward, who turns 27 years this month, returned home from South Africa in February on the back of a rather disappointing stint, punctuated by injuries, in the neighbouring country.
He went on to play a central role in FC Platinum’s turnaround with 14 goals and as much as six assists on the platinum miners’ march to their fourth successive league title.
The Soccer Stars event was returning after a two-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. CAPS United’s Joel Ngodzo was the last recipient of the Soccer Star of the Year accolade in 2019.
2021-22 Soccer Star winners:
Soccer Star of the Year — Walter Musona (FC Platinum)
First Runner-up — William Manondo (CAPS Utd)
Second Runner-up — Frank Makarati (Dynamos)
Fans Choice Award — Tinotenda Benza (Herentals)
The 2021/22 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Soccer Star of the Year finalists:
Brian Muza, Delic Murimba, Devine Mhindirira, Elie Ilunga, Gift Bello, Nelson Chadya, Tinotenda Benza, Wallace Magalane.
Goalkeeper of the Year — Nelson Chadya (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
Most Promising Player of the Year — Jayden Barake (Whawha)
Top Goal Scorer of the Year — William Manondo (CAPS Utd)
Coach of the Year — Norman Mapeza (FC Platinum)
Referee of the year — Martin Chivandire
Referee of the Year 1st Runner-up — Faith Mloyi
Referee of the Year 2nd Runner-up — Tafadzwa Nkala
Most Disciplined Team of the Year — Ngezi Platinum Stars