Sikhumbuzo Moyo in Harare
FOR the first time in modern day premiership football Bulawayo giants Highlanders failed to have a player among the prestigious Soccer Stars of the Year finalists while ageless Chicken Inn talisman Clemence Matawu became the first player in the same era to appear six times.
The Chicken Inn captain was on the calendar for the first time in 2003, made it the following year and in 2006 was voted the Soccer Star of the Year before leaving the country for Europe and when he came back he has been a regular feature since 2015.
He now joins the legendary duo of George Shaya and Sunday Chidzambwa to have appeared on the calendar six times.
At a selection process held in Harare yesterday by premiership coaches and their captains as well as journalists from various media houses in the country, there was also a first in that no goalkeeper made it into the final 11 that saw Ngezi Platinum provide the highest number of players with three – Qadr Amini, Tichaona Mabvura and Terrence Dzvukamanja.
“I must be honest with you that I am a bit disappointed that the panellists could not have just one outstanding goalkeeper in the final 11, which is a first in the history of the Zimbabwe Soccer Stars of the Year selection process.
“In my opinion I felt Chicken Inn’s Elvis Chipezeze should have made the cut but look, that is the choice of the panellists and I am not one of them,” said respected broadcaster Charles Mabika who is also Zimbabwe’s representative in the voting panel for the Fifa Player of the Year, the Ballon DoR.
League champions FC Platinum provided Rodwell Chinyengetere and Kelvin Moyo, who is a favourite for the Soccer Star of the Year. A surprise exclusion was midfield enforcer Winston Mhango.
Runners-up Dynamos have their skipper Ocean Mushure and Cameroonian Christian Epoupa while Golden Boot winner Dominic Chungwa and steady midfielder Devon Chafa made it for Caps United.
However, the two talking points will be the absence of a Highlanders player and the exclusion of a goalkeeper in the final 11 which is a first since the selection process started almost 50 years ago.
“Highlanders have always been a regular feature in the calendar going back many years but I can confidently say in modern day premiership, it’s a first that we don’t have a Bosso player among the best 11 players on the land,” said Mabika.
The panellists also voted for the Coach of the Year, the Most Promising Under-20 player as well as the Goalkeeper of the Year who however will be revealed at a banquet on December 8, according to the convener of selectors, Steve Vickers.
Meanwhile, all but one, Bulawayo teams snubbed the selection process yesterday as Bosso’s Erol Akbay and his captain, How Mine’s Kelvin Kaindu and his captain did not attend while Rahman Gumbo of Chicken Inn also was not in attendance although Matawu came. Bulawayo City were represented by only their coach, Mandla Mpofu.
2017 Soccer Stars of the Year Finalists
Clemence Matawu, Moses Jackson (Chicken Inn)
Devon Chafa, Dominic Chungwa (Caps United)
Christian Epoupa, Ocean Mushure (Dynamos)
Kelvin Moyo, Rodwell Chinyengetere (FC Platinum)
Qadr Amini, Tichaona Mabvura, Terrence Dzvukamanja (Ngezi Platinum Stars)