Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE 50th crowning ceremony of the country’s best footballer, the 2019 Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year Banquet, is on tonight in Harare, with Caps United midfielder Joel Ngodzo and in-form Highlanders’ striker Prince Dube the frontrunners to land the coveted prize.
In a year the soccer stars’ banquet celebrates its Golden Jubilee, the duo illuminated the local football scene, dividing the season among themselves, with Ngodzo being at his best, especially in the first half of the season during which he dominated headlines, while Dube is the man-of-the-moment, scoring some beautiful goals of late.
No doubt the two were in every selector’s list last week, as they shortlisted the 11 soccer stars of the year finalists. The panel of selectors was made up of sports journalists, the 18 Premiership clubs’ captains and their coaches.
Championship chasing Caps United and Chibuku Super Cup champions, Highlanders, have two players each among the finalists, with Phineas Bamusi joining Ngodzo, while goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who kept an impressive 16 clean sheets, being the other Highlanders player.
The league’s leading scorer with 14 goals heading into tonight’s awards, former Chicken Inn striker, Clive Augusto, who is now on the books of South African club Maritzburg United, Evans Katema of Dynamos, ZPC Kariba’s Ian Nekati, FC Platinum’s Never Tigere, Ralph Kawondera of Triangle United, Wellington Taderera of Black Rhinos and TelOne midfielder King Nadolo complete the finalists.
Chronicle Sport asked Bulawayo football fans whom they tip to join a list that has some of yesteryear’s greats such as Japhet Mparutsa, Stanley Ndunduma, Moses Chunga, Ephert Lungu, Mercedes Sibanda, Ephraim Chawanda, Peter Ndlovu, Agent Sawu, Tauya Murewa, Zenzo Moyo and Dazzy Kapenya.
Below are some of the fans’ views.
Aaron Handikatari: I think Prince Dube will win it. First runner-up will go to Never Tigere and second runner-up will be Ralph Kawondera.
Siphambaniso Lusaba: I think Joel Ngodzo will win it. The guy was so consistent throughout the season, helping the Green Machine to the top of the Premiership standings. Ariel Sibanda will come second because of his stellar performances of 16 clean sheets, a couple of goals and penalty saves. In number three is none other than The Prince. Prince “Mgadhafi” Dube is the reason Bosso are the Chibuku Champions, scoring at every stage of the competition. He picked form at the right time to help Bosso to an unbeaten run of 16 games. To me those are my top three men.
Gxilile Mkhwebu: It’s simple, Prince is going to be the Soccer Star, Josta (Ngodzo) first runner-up and Ralph Kawondera comes in at number three.
Silibele Dube: Prince Dube for his outstanding performances in the domestic league, Chibuku cup and national team deserves the Soccer Star of the Year award. Joel Ngodzo shone in Caps United colours and scored crucial goals for his team. King Nadolo is the reason TelOne is almost in the safe zone. Though he came in the second half of the season, he has banged in 11 goals. Prince – Soccer Star, Josta – first runner-up and King – second runner-up.
Knoxman Maraha Nkomo: Don’t be surprised to see Ariel Sibanda joining the likes of Japhet M’parutsa and Energy Murambadoro, the goalkeepers who were crowned soccer stars of the year. In number two is Joel Ngodzo, then Prince Dube.
Granger John Kwendambairi: 1. Ariel Sibanda, 2. Joel Ngodzo, 3. Ralph Kawondera.
Ntabiso Sihwa: I’ll put my money on Joel Ngodzo to be crowned 2019 Soccer Star, Prince Dube is number two and the second runner-up is Ariel Sibanda.
Precious Mathema: Joel Ngodzo, Ralph Kawondera and Prince Dube in that order.
Wellington Samadalinja: Soccer Star of the Year is Joel Ngodzo, first runner-up Never Tigere and Ariel Sibanda completes the top three list. — @ZililoR