The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
NGEZI Platinum Stars coach, Tonderai Ndiraya was a delighted man last Tuesday when his team provided the highest number of players in the Castle Lager Soccer Stars at a selection held in Harare.
Despite finishing third on the log, Ngezi Platinum had left wingback Qadr Amini, Tichaona Mabvura and Terrence Dzvukamanja chosen among the best 11. Ndiraya felt that the selection of the trio was an indication of the effort they put in during the course of the season.
“It really shows the hard work for the team throughout the season, I think we were very consistent but it’s the finishing part which we didn’t do quite well but those guys fully deserved it. They have really done well for the squad, they have really contributed goals for the team, not just goals, the assists as well so if you look at the number of goals we scored this season, I think we were the highest scoring team and most of those goals came from the three so that really shows the amount of hard work they really put in the whole season and they fully deserve to be on the calendar,’’ Ndiraya said.
His thoughts were that FC Platinum and Dynamos, who finished above his team in the race for the championship, would contribute more players come selection time.
“I thought probably FC Platinum and Dynamos would have the highest number of players on the calendar but it came to me as a surprise because we were third in the race but not really surprised because of the amount of work those guys put in throughout the season. We were actually debating among ourselves at our team struggling to choose the best among the three, I am glad that they’ve made it on the calendar that has really atoned for the disappointing finish to the championship race we have had,’’ he said.
Ndiraya is confident that one of his three lads will make it to the podium come Friday at the awards banquet.
“I believe that one of them will be in the top three considering the statistics they’ve put on the board but look it all boils down to what the other panelists think of the three but I am quite confident that at least one of the three will make it to the top three on the calendar,’’ Ndiraya said.
A closer look at the statistics, Dzvukamanja scored nine goals, provided seven assists. Mabvura found the target eight times, provided an incredible 15 assists while Amini had seven goals and played a part in six of the team’s goals. Championship winning coach, Norman Mapeza of FC Platinum, while happy with the selection was equally perplexed by the absence of a goalkeeper among the best.
“My only worry is when we couldn’t even vote for a goalkeeper among the best 11 footballers of the season. We can’t have 11 of our best footballers in the country without a goalkeeper, that’s my feeling, we should have chosen one, even if they were bad, we should have had a goalkeeper,’’ he said.
On Ngezi Platinum having the highest number of players, Mapeza said last year FC Platinum did not win the champions but still contributed three players. The only player he felt should have been selected who missed out was Winston Mhango.
“Last season we had three players, we were not the champions, I thought Winston did well but the votes have spoken, we can’t change it. If you look at Moses Jackson and Matawu I think they did well,’’ Mapeza reckoned.
He could not be drawn to say which of his players he was tipping to walk away with the top gong come Friday.
“If you check with the player of the month vote which was conducted here today, they were there, Kevin I think he missed to be player of the month by one vote, Rodwell was there, it shows people picked up the contribution in our championship winning season. Maybe one of them might get in I am not sure,’’ he said.
Mapeza is heavily tipped to win the Coach of the Year accolade ahead of Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa and Ndiraya.
Hardlife Zvirekwi, the 2016 Soccer Star has no hard feelings seeing the trophy being presented to another player come Friday. He is even prepared to present the award to the player deemed to have excelled this year in the eyes of the journalists, coaches and captains. Zvirekwi believes the award will go to either Dynamos captain Ocean Mushure or Rodwell Chinyengetere of FC Platinum.
“I no hard feelings at all, I will be the happiest to do it myself. I think between Ocean and Rodwell Chinyengetere one of them will take it,’’ Zvirekwi said.
Come Friday evening, Zimbabweans will get to know who the best player on the domestic scene is. Judging how things have gone over the years, the FC Platinum duo of Kevin Moyo and Chinyengetere are the favourites to walk away with the top prize.