SAME old story!
Impressive players from teams outside Harare and Bulawayo are hardly recognised in the annual soccer stars of the year selection and it appears — like Ngezi Platinum this year — they need to win the league title for them to earn recognition.
The soccer stars of the year selected early this week generally reflected the best of the 2023 season, but folks in Manicaland still believe Manica Diamonds — the team which ended on an impressive second position on the table — deserved more than just one player on the list.
If not the roving Brian Chikwenya, the exciting Farai Banda or talismanic, Bret Amidu, then match winning goal-minder, Tedious Baye should have been part of the 2023 soccer stars of the year, at least according to analysts in the eastern border city, some of whom followed their club more than 400km all the way to Triangle where the team played its home matches.
A panel of journalists, team captains and coaches, and other football stakeholders including the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe, met virtually to vote for the 11 best players they thought excelled in the just-ended season.
Soccer star of the year, his two runners-up, coach of the year, goalkeeper of the year as well as the most promising player under the age of 20 were also voted in, but their names will only be revealed at a banquet in Harare tomorrow (Saturday).
Premier Soccer League champions, Ngezi Platinum Stars, predictably provided the highest number of players on the list, with their three stars, captain, Qadr Amini, goalkeeper, Nelson Chadya and Takunda Benhura, all making it on to the “calendar”.
Manica Diamonds’ top man, Fortune Bhinzi is the only Gem Boys player who is part of the 2023 Castle Lager Premiership soccer stars of the year.
Mutare-based player manager, Donald ‘Azzurri’ Manhende, who has assisted a lot of football players from the eastern border city to shape their careers, said: “I cannot complain much on that list since the only fair award in soccer is being a top goal scorer. It is also my feeling that Manica Diamonds deserved more than one player on that list. To add more, I think the one who is supposed to be the soccer star of the year should be a player with the most player of the month awards.”
Gift ‘The Transporter’ Mapinda, a local football personality, said: “I felt Amidu Bret (Manica Diamonds) should have been included on the selection.
“He played well throughout the season. We also need to see how many players were selected from the top four teams, simply because for their teams to be on those positions, the players would have played a big role to achieve that.”
Munyaradzi Zinomwe, a Mutare-based staunch Liverpool and Dynamos fan, said: “No major surprises on the soccer stars list. It was a very fair selection in my opinion, though as the norm, one or two omissions, Frank Mukarati of Dynamos and Brett Amidu of Manica Diamonds are my notable omissions.
Ngezi, by virtue of being champions, deservedly provided three players, but Brian Banda of FC Platinum and Tinashe Balakasi of Simba Bhora are other notable omissions, in my opinion.”
2023 soccer stars of the year finalists:
Nelson Chadya, Ariel Sibanda, Qadr Amini, Andrew Mbeba, Tanaka Shandirwa, Donald Mudadi, Tino Benza, Michael Charamba, Fortune Binzi, Takunda Benhura and Obriel Chirinda.