Qadr rules the roost
Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
UTILITY man Qadr Amini was last night in a state of delirium as he was accompanied by his two wives to receive the Soccer Star of the Year crown.
This follows a stellar season in which he captained Ngezi Platinum Stars to their maiden Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title.
The 33-year-old former Zimbabwe international beat competition from Dynamos midfield kingpin Donald Mudadi, who finished as the first runner-up, and Bulawayo Chiefs marksman Obriel, who was the second runner-up.
“I’m speechless. I cant express my joy right now but I want to thank my teammates and my coach Takesure Chiragwi; you are the best. I also want to thank my wives who are here with me. I love you so much guys. They have been very supportive throughout,” said Amini.
Amini pocketed US$7 500 for his efforts while Mudadi cashed US$4 500 and Chirinda walked home US$3 750 richer for being the third best.
It was an evening to remember for Ngezi Platinum Stars after their coach Takesure Chiragwi also nailed the Coach of the Year, for the first time.
Youthful forward from the Mhondoro side Takunda Benhura won the Top Goal Scorer award.
Benhura received his Golden Boot award after scoring 13 goals in his first full season.
He received US$6 375.
Champions Ngezi Platinum dominated the evening where they were also presented with the league trophy by Guest of Honour, the Deputy Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Emily Jesaya.
For the second year running, they were also named the Most Disciplined Team of the Year.
The Mhondoro side had three players on the 2023 PSL calendar, with goalkeeper Nelson Chadya and 22-year-old forward Takunda Benhura also joining Soccer Star Amini on the podium.
But the evening belonged to Amini, who had a particularly impressive second half of the season to help the platinum miners reach the Promised Land.
Veteran Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda scooped the Goalkeeper of the Year award for his 19 clean sheets.
Dynamos rookie Elton Chikona was voted the Most Promising Player of the Year. The teenage forward pipped teammate Junior Makunike in a close contest with fellow Glamour Boy.
Voting was done by a hybrid panel comprising journalists, coaches and captains of the 18 PSL clubs, using a secure electronic voting platform.
Convener of the selection panel Lawrence Moyo said the process was smoother this year although participation was not 100 percent.
Herentals forward Tinotenda Benza, for the second year running was the Fans favourite.
Brighton Chimene won the referee of the year for the third time, having previously won it in 2016 and 2019.
Guest of Honour Jesaya hailed the football authorities in the country as well as sponsors Delta Beverages for keeping the game alive even during the period when the country was under FIFA suspension.
“Notably, I would like to thank Delta Beverages for their unwavering support towards football and sport development in Zimbabwe. Under their different brands, Delta Beverages has changed the face of football through the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League as well as capacitating various football stakeholders through sponsoring training workshops and promoting sporting events.
“The Ministry applauds you for your commitment towards sectoral growth The Government would like to commend the Sport and Recreation Commission (SRC), ZIFA and PSL for ensuring that domestic football continued during the FIFA suspension and providing entertainment to football lovers around the country and sustained footballer’s livelihoods,” said Jesaya.
Delta Beverages Marketing Director Irimayi Muzorewa said it was a pleasure to celebrate the best players of the 2023 season.
PSL chairman Farai Jere also hailed the XI finalists. He also challenged the local players to score more goals next season after the Golden Boot was won by 13 goals this year.
Jere said 567 goals were scored from the 360 matches played during the season.
This was a significant decrease from the 594 goals netted last season.
“We expect our goals to go up each year but this year we had a challenge. The top goal scorer Takunda Benhura has 13 goals. Last year the top goal scorer had 17 goals.
“So, it’s a challenge to the players to up their game. I would like to challenge our strikers to score more goals next season.
“Our main objective is to improve our game so that it becomes attractive and makes it appealing to stakeholders,” said Jere.
2023 Soccer Star: Qadr Amini (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
First Runner-up: Donald Mudadi (Dynamos)
Second Runner-up: Obriel Chirinda (Bulawayo Chiefs)
8 Finalists: Takunda Benhura, Nelson Chadya (all Ngezi Platinum Stars), Tanaka Shandirwa (Dynamos), Andrew Mbeba, Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Tino Benza (Herentals), Fortune Binzi (Manica Diamonds) and Michael Charamba (Chicken Inn).
Top Goal Scorer: Takunda Benhura (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
Coach of the Year: Takesure Chiragwi (Ngezi Platinum Stars)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders)
Most Promising U’20: Elton Chikona (Dynamos)
Fans Choice: Tinotenda Benza (Herentals)
Most disciplined team: Ngezi Platinum Stars
Referee of the year: Brighton Chimene
1st Runner up: Francis Chirwa
2nd Runner-up: Zondiwa Nkosana