BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
HAS CAPS United midfield general Joel Ngodzo done enough to scoop the 2019 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League’s highly coveted soccer star of the year honour?
Or maybe Clive Augusto, who still leads the Golden Boot race after banging in 14 goals in the first half of the season for Chicken Inn and winning three player of the month accolades before leaving the country in August.
Or perhaps Prince Dube’s blistering form for resurgent Bulawayo giants Highlanders in the second half of the season could help him nick the country’s biggest individual football award.
It is that time of the year again when the domestic Premiership selects the best players of the current season.
What is interesting about this season is that there is no clear favourite, with only a handful of players having been consistent throughout the season, thus a surprise winner cannot be ruled out this year.
And with the 2017 and 2018 winner Rodwell Chinyengetere out of contention after spending the first half of the season at Baroka FC in South Africa; and 2016 best Hardlife Zvirekwi also out of the picture, there is certainly going to be a first time winner this year.
Journalists, coaches and team captains are set to choose the season’s best performers including the goalkeeper of the year and rookie of the year on Wednesday this week.
Since Augusto joined Maritzburg United in August, Ngodzo who has been largely touted as the heir apparent to Chinyengetere for has been instrumental in Makepekepe’s sustained league challenge that saw him scoop the July player of the month honour.
But the gifted midfielder has to have run out of steam towards the end of the season with CAPS United chasing their first league title since 2016.
However, he remains firmly among the favourites to land the top award together with Augusto, who could emulate Tendai Ndoro after the Chicken Inn striker won the soccer star gong in 2013 despite playing only the first half of the season.
Warriors striker Dube has won the September and October player of the month accolades, the latter more deserved than the former and he has built strong case for the ultimate prize after helping Highlanders to a current 10 match unbeaten run.
Other players, who have done well this season include Dynamos striker Evans Katema who has scored 12 league goals so far as well as exciting young teammate Emmanuel Jalai, who had a memorable debut season.
Soccer Star in 2012, Denver Mukamba is tipped for a surprise appearance on the soccer stars calendar after exorcising his off field demons to put up consistent performances for Chapungu during the second half of the season. TelOne’s King Nadolo is another form player, who has been scoring goals for fun in the club’s fight against relegation.
Nadolo is the joint third best scorer in the league on 10 goals along with Ngodzo and Harare City’s Ishmael Wadi, all his goals coming in the second half of the season.
Wadi is also having a good season with the Sunshine Boys despite the team fighting relegation this year. Champions FC Platinum’s Never Tigere and Kelvin Madzongwe may also find themselves on the Soccer Star calendar driving the Zvishavane based side on two fronts, the Caf champion’s league and a spirited title defence.
Tichaona Chipunza has been consistently in top form for Chicken Inn since his switch from Ngezi Platinum at the beginning of the season and could make the finalists list.
His teammate, Obriel Chirinda showed flashes of brilliance here and there during this season, which saw him win the August player of the month recognition along with Triangle’s Allan Tavarwisa.
However, Triangle’s bad form on the local front puts a dent on Tavarwisa and Raphael Kawondera’s chances to make the list.
Wellington Taderera who plays for army side Black Rhinos has also been a consistent performer this season and should easily make the soccer stars calendar as well as Herentals Juan Mutudza. Veteran striker Ralph Matema has single handedly carried Yadah FC’s campaign this season with Donald Teguru and Frank Mukarati doing well for Ngezi Platinum.
Harare City coach Lloyd Chitembwe is favourite to win the coach award for setting on course former side CAPS United’s title bid as well as reviving City’s survival hopes.
Tonderai Ndiraya has done well with an inexperienced Dynamos side going on a 19-match unbeaten run and still counting, since taking over from Lloyd Chigowe four matches into the season.