A JOURNEY that began with Chicken Inn’s Innocent Mucheneka netting the first goal of the season on April Fools’ Day ended last Saturday with Bulawayo City’s Newman Sianchali scoring the last goal of the 2017 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.
A riveting season that at one point was a four-horse race but ended up being a duel between seasoned campaigners Dynamos and eventual winners FC Platinum – the first team from outside Harare and Bulawayo to do so since St Paul’s Musami in 1966.
Our Sports Reporters Langton Nyakwenda and Don Makanyanga look at the A to Z of the 2017 season.
Ascot Stadium provided the championship podium for the second time in a row as FC Platinum were crowned champions after beating Chapungu 2-0 at the Gweru venue.
Caps United were also crowned at Ascot last season after beating the air force side 1-0.
Ascot was also the centre of attraction midseason when the goal post collapsed on June 18, with Dynamos leading 4-0 in the 56th minute, presenting the PSL with a novel case to deal with.
The game resumed on September 21 and ended 4-0 in favour of DeMbare.
Bantu Rovers were the first team to be relegated when they were thumped 5-0 by Harare City at Rufaro on October 14.
The Bulawayo side had the worst defence in the league, conceding 73 goals in 34 matches.
Chipezeze Elvis, the Chicken Inn goalkeeper had the most clean sheets – 18 in 31 games – but sadly missed out on the 2017 Soccer Stars calendar which had no place for a keeper.
Dynamos and Denver. Very few gave DeMbare a chance when Lloyd Mutasa conducted trials at Hellenics Sports Club in February but the Glamour Boys went on to mount a serious title challenge before losing the race to FC Platinum on the last day.
However, “bad boy” Denver Mukamba, who hogged the headlines for alleged drug abuse and absenteeism, threatened to take the gloss off the remarkable season by Dynamos.
Epoupa! Christian Joel Ntouba Epoupa became the first Cameroonian player to feature for a local Premiership side when he signed for Dynamos on March 21 before going on to score 12 goals for the Harare giants.
The Cameroonian’s debut season was also full of controversy, first his “off side” goal against Highlanders at Barbourfields on May 14 causing the abandonment of match.
Then his red card, again against Highlanders at Rufaro on September 10, causing widespread furore after ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa’s ill-advised attempts to reverse it.
Farai Mupasiri revived his fading career at Shabanie Mine who survived relegation on the penultimate week.
A Dynamos reject; the 24-year-old was the Shabanie Mine skipper and played a leading role as the financially crippled Zvishavane side staged one of the most amazing escapes.
Goals. A total of 620 goals were scored with Dynamos being the highest scorers with 55 goals. Ngezi Platinum Stars were the second best with 54.
Tsholotsho had the least number of goals at 19.
Harare City won the Chibuku Super Cup in November before they were relegated from the PSL last Saturday. They could become the first Division One team to represent Zimbabwe in the CAF Confederation Cup next year.
Indiscipline cases were also recorded. Abandoned matches included the May 14 match between Highlanders and Dynamos at BF, the Chibuku Super Cup matches involving Yadah FC against Chicken Inn on September 23 as well as Caps United and Shabanie on October 8.
Crowd trouble forced play to stop for 15 minutes in a match pitting Ngezi Platinum Stars and Dynamos on October 28.
John Zhuwawu. After only six months in the top flight Zhuwawu has already attracted foreign interest. The Caps United striker is currently in South Africa for trials at Ajax Cape Town.
Kevin Kaindu’s tiff with Philani Ncube reached another level on the last weekend of the season with the How Mine gaffer openly stating that he was happy Ncube’s Harare City were relegated. “I hope they stay in Division One,” Kaindu said.
Lot Chiwunga missed a lot. The Black Rhinos striker who scored 12 goals, the same as DeMbare’s Epoupa, was a surprise omission from the Soccer Stars calendar.
Muduhwa. Peter Muduhwa, the Highlanders centre back with a knack of being at the centre controversy was at it again when he was involved in a scuffle with Dynamos’ Epoupa who ended up receiving a straight red at Rufaro on September 10.
Ngezi Platinum Stars provided three players on the soccer stars calendar Qadr Amini, Terrence Dzukamanja and Tichaona Mabvura.
Ocean Mushure was a hit for Dynamos especially after he was converted to a more advanced role on the lefty channel. He scored nine goals, most of them from free kicks.
Philani “Beefy” Ncube and his juicy quotes. One of them was “If he claims that he is a man of God then he should pray for me to leave my juju ways,” Ncube said in reference to How Mine coach Kevin Kaindu.
Questions surrounded this year’s soccer stars selection after the omission of a goalkeeper on the list.
Rodwell Chinyengetere finally picked up a championship medal five years after suffering a horrific double fracture injury that kept him on the sidelines for 18 months.
Sibusiso Moyo became the youngest player ever to feature in a PSL match when he debuted against Highlanders at 15 on September 28.
The Premiership’s top scorer was Dominic Chungwa with 17 goals in a season he blossomed in the second half following the departure of Brian Abbas Amidu.
Unbelievable! FC Platinum became the first team from outside Harare and Bulawayo to win the league title in 50 years.
Vietnam Stand could be renamed after Dynamos legend George Shaya following suggestions by Harare City fathers during the season.
Wallace Magalane burst onto the scene late in the season, dethroned reigning keeper of the year Petros Mhari before going on to keep 10 clean sheets in 13 matches as FC Platinum coasted to their maiden league title.
X factor! Devon Chafa scored the contender for the Goal of the Season when Caps United beat Highlanders 3-1 at the National Sports on October 26.
Yadah FC blew hot and cold. After a stormy start to the season which saw them being compared to the great Black Rhinos side of the 1980s, Yadah FC fizzled along the way and ended up needing a Roderick Mutuma goal to survive relegation in Week 33.
ZPC Kariba was the setting of one of the most dramatic stories of the season when a secret recording with veteran coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa lambasting his executive was leaked early October.
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