HARARE – All eyes will be on sports journalists, coaches and club captains when they convene this morning in the capital to select the 2017 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Soccer Stars of the Year finalists.
While coming up with 11 players who excelled this year might appear an easy task, it is coming up with the top three performers that is likely to give the selectors a headache.
While it has been a relatively competitive year which saw the destiny of the championship being decided right on the last day, it appears there were no standout performers who illuminated the scene throughout year.
So far a lot of names are being tossed around which include FC Platinum’s Kelvin Moyo, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Wallace Magalane and Winston Mhango.
The platinum miners ended a six-year wait after being crowned champions on Saturday with the likes of Chinyengetere and Mhango playing a leading role in the team’s success.
FC Platinum became the first team outside Harare and Bulawayo to win the Zimbabwean championship since independence.
After suffering a 2-1 loss to CAPS United at Rufaro Stadium in August, FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza made a bold decision to drop first choice goalkeeper Petros Mhari to trust Magalane with guarding goal for the remainder of the season.
The former Bantu Rovers keeper repaid the faith he was shown by Mapeza as he went on to concede only three goals and kept 10 clean sheets in the 13 matches he played in the second half of the season.
Chinyengetere finished the season as Pure Platinum Play’s leading goal scorer with nine goals while Mhango was a stabilising factor in midfield for Norman Mapeza’s men.
There are also other players like Dynamos’ trio of Ocean Mushure, Christian Ntouba and midfielder Tichaona Chipunza.
The trio has been the reason why Dynamos ended up as runners-up in a year very few gave them a chance for a top four finish.
Chicken Inn skipper Moses Jackson also had an outstanding season for the former champions alongside players like Clemence Matawu and Innocent Muchaneka.
CAPS United midfielder Devon Chafa also had an outstanding season and could be considered for a place on the calendar while his teammate Dominic Chungwa was also impressive up-front.
Chungwa is already assured of the Golden Boot award after finishing the season with 17 goals, five ahead of his closest rivals Lot Chiwunga and Ntouba.
Ngezi Platinum Stars duo of Tichaona Mabvura and Terrence Dzvukamanja could also be in the running as they had a decent campaign for the platinum miners which saw them launch a serious title fight before losing steam towards the end of the season.
For Coach of the Year it appears a tight race between Mapeza, Dynamos’ Lloyd Mutasa while Shabanie Mine’s Takesure Chiragwi could also be a dark horse after leading the Zvishavane outfit to safety in what was a rocky season for them.
Mutasa salvaged what looked like a lost season for DeMbare with a relatively average side made up of mostly misfits assembled at the star of the season.
Chiragwi defied the odds by guiding the Chinda Boys to safety when it looked like they were sure candidates for relegation.
League sponsors Delta Beverages will reward Soccer Star of the Year, first runner-up, second runner-up and the other eight finalists.
There will also be prizes for Coach of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Most Promising Under-20 Player of the Year, Referee of the Year, his first runner-up and second runner-up.