Danny Phiri tipped for top gong

HARARE - Chicken Inn midfielder Danny “Deco” Phiri has emerged as the favourite to win this year’s Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year Award set to be announced at a function in the capital tonight.

Phiri has been one of the vital cogs for Chicken Inn, playing with passion en-route to the title.

The midfield enforcer was one of the reasons the Gamecocks clinched their first league title in their fourth year in the Premiership.

Football writers, coaches and club captains met in the capital on Monday and came up with 11 players who are the finalists for this year’s Soccer Star of the Year.

The general consensus among the football followers is that Phiri deserves to collect the top award for being crucial to Chicken Inn’s cause during the just-ended league campaign.

Indeed, it has been an average season, where no player has illuminated the domestic football scene but Phiri appears to have done enough to inherit the crown won by ZPC Kariba’s Dennis Dauda last year.

Of course, his teammates, in ageless midfielder Clemence Matawu, striker Edmore Chirambadare, and goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze also played pivotal roles in the title charge to deserve a place on the 11 finalists list but it was Phiri who turned on the show throughout the campaign.

Apparently, it was thought Phiri was ineligible for selection as he had picked up five yellow cards but the organisers later confirmed that the Gamecocks’ man was eligible.

Phiri could face competition from Highlanders’ Knox Mutizwa, who has already been confirmed the Golden Boot winner after finishing the season with 14 goals.

Dynamos left back Ocean Mushure, who has been the Glamour Boys’ unsung hero in 2015, is another dark horse for the top award.

Despite Dynamos losing the title to Chicken Inn, Mushure did, however, exhibit individual brilliance throughout the season.

Mushure’s team-mate Tatenda Mukuruva was another success story of the season.

Although the competition hardly rewards goalkeepers, Mukuruva had a brilliant season for the Glamour Boys between the sticks and should not come as a surprise if he is crowned tonight.

And if Mukuruva misses on the top gong he is no doubt the favourite for Goalkeeper of the Year Award where he will face competition from Chicken Inn’s Chipezeze.

Mukuruva, who is the youngest player among the best 11 is also a sure bet for the Rookie of the Year Award.

He is likely to face competition from former Harare City teenage ace Tino Kadewere who has since moved to Sweden.

The Coach of the Year and the Referee of the Year will also be honoured tonight. Chicken Inn’s Joey Antipas, Norman Mapeza of FC Platinum and Lizwe Sweswe of Tsholotsho will battle it out for the coach of the year award.

The Soccer Star is set to pocket US$5 000 while his first and second runner-up will each pocket $3 000 and $2 000 respectively.

Each of the other eight finalists will get US$1 000, the golden boot winner $2 000 with the top goalkeeper also pocketing $2 000.

The Coach of the Year will pocket $3 500 with the Most Promising Under-20 player set to walk away with $2 000.

The Referee of the Year, who will be voted for by the Zimbabwe Soccer Referees’ Association, will receive $2 000 while his first and second runner-up will pocket
$1 500 and $1 000 respectively.

For the most disciplined team, $10 000 will be the reward.

2015 Best 11:

Hillary Bakacheza (Triangle), Elvis Chipezeze, Edmore Chirambadare, Clemance Matawu, Danny Phiri (all Chicken Inn), Stephen Makatuka (CAPS United), Tatenda Mukuruva, Ocean Mushure (both Dynamos), Rapheal Manuvire (ZPC Kariba), Brian Muzondiwa (FC Platinum), Knox Mutizwa (Highlanders)

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