Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE 2022 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season will in four weeks call for curtains and a panel of sports journalists, coaches and captains is set to vote for the best player in the land.
Caps United midfielder Joel Ngodzo is still the reigning Soccer Star of the Year thanks to the Covid-19 freeze. He won the award in 2019. Josta will hand over the crown to a new king after he failed to live up to his reputation.
The selection process will see the panellists voting for the top eleven and from that list, they will then select the best three who will be unveiled at a later date.
Besides voting for the eleven best players, the panellists will select the Coach, Goalkeeper and Rookie of the Year, who just like the three top stars will be unveiled at a later date.
The exciting season is set to end with FC Platinum crowned champions after the Zvishavane-based side staged an amazing second-half title charge that has seen them dislodge Chicken Inn and Dynamos from the apex.
It is highly likely that the Soccer Star of the Year, like it happened in the 2017 and 2018 season will come from FC Platinum. Rodwell Chinyengetere, then with FC Platinum won the best player’s award in 2017 and 2018.
This time around, FC Platinum, who are in contention for a league and cup double, have had among their outstanding players, goalkeeper Wallace Magalane who has kept 14 clean sheets in 17 matches.
Since replacing Petros Mhari who had picked up an injury in FC Platinum’s 1-0 defeat on April 30, Magalane has been inspirational for the platinum miners’ title charge, winning the July Player of the Month award.
FC Platinum has never lost a match since Magalane started, winning 14 games and playing to three draws during the period under review.
FC Platinum’ midfielder Brian Banda might not be charismatic, but he is a grafter who has put in consistent performances throughout the season as the champions charge towards a fourth consecutive league title.
Banda has started 27 out of the 30 league games, coming from the bench twice in FC Platinum’s 2-0 first leg away win at Bulawayo City and the 0-0 draw in Mutare against Manica Diamonds. The midfielder was an unused substitute in the abandoned home game against Highlanders in March, which was later awarded to FC Platinum on a 3-0 scoreline.
Banda has been a top performer for the Norman Mapeza-coached side, with his admirable box-to-box play.
Walter Musona with 10 goals for FC Platinum is also a contender for a place in the 11 finalists.
Chicken Inn who started the season on fire will hope that Brian Muza, their leading scorer with 11 goals will be considered for the stars’ calendar. The stocky striker started the season on fire, getting goals that made Chicken Inn title favourites up to the halfway mark when they lost form and allowed FC Platinum to topple them.
Chicken Inn also has central midfielder Bret Amidu with six goals among some of their consistent performers.
Harare giants, Dynamos, the second team after FC Platinum with the least number of goals conceded (14 in 30 outings), have goalkeeper Tymon Mvula and defender Frank Makarati among the players that may be selected among the eleven.
Mvula has been great between the sticks while Makarati’s leadership at the back has been fantastic.
Maybe if winger Bill Antonio, who is out of the Rookie of the Year contention, had stayed till the end of the season, he would have made it into the country’s best eleven. Antonio left for Belgium last month.
Only Players born after January 1, 2003 are eligible for Rookie of the Year selection.
Ngezi Platinum Stars’ skipper Polite Moyo, a vital cog in defence has been outstanding and it will not be surprising to see him getting a couple of votes from selectors.
Some of the players that have been key for Highlanders include playmaker Divine Mhindirira, whose crafty work in central midfield has won him admirers. When playing against Highlanders, most teams believe shutting out Mhindirira, who has also been a victim of crude tackles, is the only way to stop Bosso. Most have failed to keep Mhindirira under lock and key.
Utility player, Godfrey Makaruse, who was moved to left back from the midfield, has been a consistent performer for Highlanders in his role, with Lynoth Chikuhwa on 10 goals, also making noise among the contenders.
Veteran defensive midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku, who kept Bosso going for the better part of the season before losing form and regaining it as well as scoring five goals is in with slim chances.
Veteran striker Donald Ngoma (33) with seven goals played a key role in leading Triangle United, showing that there’s no substitute for experience.
Bulawayo Chiefs also have attacking midfielder Mthokozisi Msebe, central defender Marlvin Mkolo and stocky forward Obriel Chirinda among their top contenders. For the first time since they were promoted into the topflight, Chiefs might have one of their players in the country’s best 11.
The selection process wouldn’t be fair without leading scorer William Manondo of Caps United, who has 15 goals in his account with four league matches left. –@ZililoR
Article Source: The Chronicle