HARARE – Warriors interim coach Norman Mapeza and national team captain Knowledge Musona picked Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo for the 2017 Fifa Best Awards.
According to voting results published by the world football governing body yesterday, Mapeza and Musona had Ronaldo as their first choice, followed by Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi while Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos was their third choice.
Ronaldo went on to win the award for the player in the world for the second year running at Fifa’s The Best awards gala held on Monday night in London.
Messi, who has won the Ballon d’or five times, and Paris St Germain’s Brazil forward Neymar were runners up for the award voted for by national team coaches and captains as well as the media and fans.
The Best Fifa Men’s Player award and the Ballon d’or, which is voted for only by the media, are now separate awards.
Ronaldo, who is the four-time Ballon d’Or winner won a La Liga and Champions League double with the Madrid club this year, striking twice against Juventus in the European Cup final to help Real become the first team to retain the trophy in its current format.
For the coach of the Year, Mapeza and Musona settled for Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane, who won the award ahead of Juventus Massimiliano Allegri and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte.
Italy international Gianluigi Buffon won the best goalkeeper award while Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud won the Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, which was the Frenchman’s scorpion kick against Crystal Palace.
Meanwhile, in an unsurprising discovery was that neither Messi or Ronaldo found a spot for each other in their respective ballot papers.
The two forwards have been battling for supremacy on and off the pitch for much of the past decade. And neither would even give an inch at the ballot box.
As captain of Portugal, Ronaldo voted for three of his Real Madrid team-mates: Luke Modric, Sergio Ramos, and Marcelo.
Messi, meanwhile, selected Barcelona's Luis Suarez as the best player in the world, ahead of team-mate Andres Iniesta and Neymar.
They were not the only captains to make surprising selections on their ballots.
England manager Gareth Southgate omitted Messi, too, instead going for Modric and Toni Kroos behind Ronaldo, while Lesly St. Fleur, the captain of the Bahamas, picked N'Golo Kante and Juventus forward Paulo Dybala alongside Messi.
And for a number of players and coaches from around the world, neither Messi nor Ronaldo were among the three best players in the world in 2017.
Barbados captain Mario Harte went instead for the trio of Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Antoine Griezmann and Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich.