AT some point Dynamos skipper Ocean Mushure looked like he was racing away with the Soccer Star of the Year gong but he fizzled out in the second half of the season.
Cameroonian import Christian Joel Epoupa also looked like a sure fit but has been hit by a goal drought at a time Dominic Chungwa is firing from all cylinders.
Chungwa currently leads the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League goal scoring charts with 15, and should be fancying his chances of making it into the finest XI list when the selection is done in Harare on November 28.
A select pool of club coaches and captains, and football writers, will do the selection.
Whereas in the past a player who accumulated six or more yellow cards was ineligible, the threshold has effectively been raised to 10.
Under the new system a yellow card carries a point and a red card two; and a player who accumulates 10 points is out of the running.
Rules and regulations aside, veteran soccer commentator Charles Mabika says this has been a season of inconsistency.
“The players have kind of blown hot and cold,” says Mabika.
“And that is the problem we have these days. In the past players like the great George Shaya, Joel Shambo, Stanford ‘Stix’ Mtizwa, Willard ‘Mashinkila’ Khumalo and Peter Ndlovu would shine from the start right up to the end.
“Look at Mushure; when the season started he was on fire but the Dynamos skipper fizzled out just like his teammate Christian Epoupa Ntouba.
“Nonetheless, there are some players worth mentioning, like the Ngezi Platinum duo of Qadr Amini and Terrence Dzukamanja as well as their teammates Partson Jaure and Donald Teguru.
“Innocent Mucheneka (Chicken Inn) and the old man of football, Clement Matawu, have also done well.”
Mabika also has special praise for the FC Platinum duo of Rodwell Chinyengetere and defensive linkman Winston Mhango.
“I think Rahman Kutsanzira was the pick of the crop at Highlanders while Bruce Homora also did well at Rhinos. Black Rhinos goalkeeper Herbert Rusawo had a fantastic first half of the season, his teammate Jameson Mukombwe also had a dream season.”
Likewise, 1996 Soccer Star of the Year Stewart Murisa struggles to pick a man worthy of wearing the crown thi season.
“There are a few players who did well like Ocean Mushure and Epoupa from Dynamos while Matawu was also up there. Chungwa and Devon Chafa shone at Caps United while the Black Rhinos pair of Mukombwe and Homora also deserve a place on the calendar.”
Junior football coach and analyst Bekhi Nyoni has reservations with the manner in which selectors ignore early season performers.
“You find that players who perform well in the early stages of the season have very little chances of making it onto the calendar compared to say those who spark in the last few games of the season,” he notes.
“My biggest challenge with the Soccer Stars selection is the separation between Player of the Month and the Soccer Star. A player wins the Player of the Month twice or more but you don’t find him on the calendar.
“Having said that, I think Tichaona Mabvura and Dzukamanja of Ngezi as well as Kelvin Moyo and Mhango of FC Platinum should really challenge for the top three. Mushure, Mucheneka, Chafa, Chungwa, Mukombwe, and Simon Munawa of Highlanders have also been outstanding.”
Long-serving Hwange-based football writer Tobias Madoreba, who has watched all the teams at the Colliery, thinks Bulawayo City’s Ishmael Wadi is the most underrated player in the league.
“DeMbare’s Cameroonian forward Epoupa scored some beautiful goals that lit our league, Farai Mupasiri reinvented his career at Shabanie while Moses Jackson led from the back at Chicken Inn.
“Despite having a tough year, Hwange had Shepherd Gadzikwa consistent throughout. Mhango and Chinyengetere were also outstanding for FC Platinum,” opines Madoreba.
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