By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Barring any unexpected changes to the selection criteria, five players are automatically out of consideration for the 2018 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Soccer Stars of the Year.
Selection is set for Thursday by the country’s sports journalists in Harare.
Ngezi Platinum Stars’ Liberty Chakoroma and the Dynamos quartet of Peace Makaha, Marshal Machazane, Obey Mwerahari and Kingston Nkatha were sanctioned for various offences by the PSL as well as their clubs respectively.
Chakoroma was found guilty by the PSL disciplinary panel for assaulting a match official in their Chibuku Super Cup encounter against Herentals.
He was subsequently banned for three matches for contravening the PSL Rules and Regulations Order 31.2.9 which state that it is an act of misconduct on the part of a player who: assaults, threatens, intimidates, coerces, interferes, misleads, or insults a match official, player, official of the league, public, press or media, or any other person, before, during or after the match.
The DeMbare players were suspended by their club for gross indiscipline. Although they might not have been in the running for consideration judging by the Harare giants’ poor run this season, except maybe for the talented Makaha, the Dynamos players’ actions violated the stars’ selection criteria.
Meanwhile, FC Platinum’s Rodwell Chinyengetere and Kevin Moyo are odds on favourites to be among the best 11 players.
The duo was among the best players selected last year and their performance was consistent this season and they were also duly rewarded with national team call ups.
Midfield enforcer Winston Mhango, who was a surprise exclusion last year, is likely to find himself among the finalists.
Also almost certain to grace the calendar is influential Triangle United forward, the stocky Lameck Nhamo, who is set to join FC Platinum for next season.
Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who kept an impressive 16 clean sheets in 30 league starts, has also been one of the most consistent players on the local scene as well as his teammates Adrian Silla, vice-captain Gabriel Nyoni and right-back McClive Phiri.
Chicken Inn’s Obrien Chirinda and Innocent Mucheneka were also consistent performers for the Gamecocks and so was veteran Ralph Matema for Yadah.
Ngezi Platinum, who had a great start to the season only to fizzle out at the crucial stage of the race, could have Godknows Murwira, Walter Mukanga and goalkeeper Bernard Donovan.
Joel Ngodzo of Caps United and David Temwanjira of ZPC Kariba are also in the running.
The Coach of the Year should be a two-horse race between former Ngezi Platinum coach Tonderai Ndiraya and league champions’ Norman Mapeza.
Indications, however, are that Mapeza, who guided Pure Platinum Play to successfully defend their league title, is just waiting for the awards night to be confirmed 2018 Coach of the Year.
As has become the norm, the process will be conducted via electronic voting, with the panellists’ choices being made public. The Chronicle