By Eddie Chikamhi
It appears the battle for the 2019 Soccer Star of the Year will be a shoot-out between Joel “Josta’’ Ngodzo and Prince Dube.
The CAPS United midfielder and the Highlanders striker were the popular choices among those who voted for the award yesterday.
Triangle captain Ralph Kawondera could make the top three.
Organisers of the awards yesterday hailed the new online voting system that was used yesterday to select the 11 Soccer Stars of the Year.
This meant votes were able to be collected from as far afield as Sudan where some journalists, coaches and FC Platinum are in Khartoum ahead of a CAF Champions League group stage match tomorrow.
Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda also made the calendar for the second year in succession following a brilliant individual season.
Bosso also provided another player, striker Prince Dube, in the race for the best footballer in the domestic Premiership this season.
There were also places for ZPC Kariba defender Ian Nekati, Dynamos’ Evans Katema, Wellington Taderera (Black Rhinos), Clive Augusto (formerly Chicken Inn), King Nadolo (TelOne), Kawondera (Triangle) while FC Platimun were represented by Never Tigere.
Voting was also conducted for the Coach of the Year, Promising Young Player and Goalkeeper of the Year awards and results will be unveiled at the Soccer Stars banquet on December 6.
The voting was overseen by a panel of experts who included an independent auditor, sports editors, sponsors Delta Beverages and representatives from the PSL.
“I think most of the people involved in this process were in agreement that this is the way to go,’’ convenor of selectors, Steve Vickers, said.
“We moved to electronic voting, I think, some five years back and this time we have gone a step further by voting online.
“It was the first time that we had the online system and it can only get better as we go forward.’’
Delta Beverages were also happy with the process with the company’s Channel Marketing executive, Irimayi Muzorewa, saying it went well.
“I think this process went very well. For the first time, based on the level of participation from the panellists, it was actually very high.
“I think we had an 83 percent response rate,” said Muzorewa.
Former Soccer Star of the Year award winner (1989) Masimba Dinyero said the selection was a fair reflection of the quality in the domestic Premiership.
“I think most of these guys played very well this season but consistency was lacking,’’ he said.
“Some had a good first half and others picked up in the second half of the season.
“I am happy Joel (Ngodzo) is there again. I am also quite happy with Nekati. I coached this boy for four years and I always believed that one day he could become a great player.
“It is always difficult for defenders to make it onto the calendar but this guy proved himself, even when he was given that opportunity in the national team.”
Stewart Murisa, the 1996 Soccer Star of the Year winner, said he was concerned there were few defenders among the Best XI players.
Among the notable omissions were Dynamos’ Emmanuel Jalai, Tichaona Chipunza of Chicken Inn, Partson Jaure (Manica Diamonds) and injured CAPS United stalwart, Method Mwanjali.
Two players Munyaradzi Kunyarimwe of ZPC Kariba and Ngezi Platinum’s Frank Mukarati were disqualified from the selection on disciplinary grounds.
Both players have accumulated 10 or more disciplinary points and were not eligible for selection, according to the selection guidelines.
Highlanders coach, Hendrikus Pieter de Jongh and Chapungu’s Thomas Chinyan’anya, also missed out because they did not attain the 10 games required to be eligible for selection.
However, the decision to bar Bulawayo Chiefs’ Thulani Sibanda by the PSL,on the advise of ZIFA that he did not have a CAF A licence, sparked some controversy.
Especially, given Joey Antipas, who also doesn’t have a CAF A licence, was considered for the Coach of the Year award.
“I think the selection was good. In as much as we all have our expectations, there will never be a time when we all agree on the same players,’’ said Murisa, who is now one of the assistant coaches at the Green Machine.
“But, I think Method (Mwanjali) deserved to be there as well.
“This is a guy who helped shape CAPS United’s campaign this season and when he got injured we were all fretting what was going to happen next.
“I wouldn’t want to sound too critical but the Dynamos youngster Jalai was also one consistent player I felt should have made the grade.
“Maybe, it’s the voting patterns that do not give defenders enough appreciation. I think that mentality should change.
“The strikers and midfielders are easily noticed because they create the chances and score goals. But, for a team to win games, the defenders should also play a big role.
“Unfortunately, it’s when they make mistakes when they are noticed.’’
Indications are high that former Chicken Inn striker Augusto will win the Golden Boot.
He left to join South Africa’s Maritzburg United mid-season after scoring 14 goals from 17 starts.
His tally still stands unchallenged with two games remaining in the season.
2019 Soccer Star of the Year finalists
Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Ian Nekati (ZPC Kariba), Evans Katema (Dynamos), Phineas Bamusi (CAPS United), Prince Dube (Highlanders), Wellington Taderera (Black Rhinos), Clive Augusto (formerly Chicken Inn), Joel Ngodzo (CAPS United), King Nadolo (TelOne), Ralph Kawondera (Triangle), Never Tigere (FC Platinum). The Herald