Sunday, November 18, 2012

Highlanders beat Rangers 2-0

Highlanders beat  Blue Rangers  2 - 0 but has just missed winning the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship this year by two points after Dynamos draw 1-1 with Hardbody this afternoon in Gweru.
Bosso were chasing their first title since 2006 and agonisingly came close with a show and a season to be proud of after so many heartaches. It was a season that signalled good things to come.

Amahlolanyama surprised all and sundry by providing four players to the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Soccer Star of the Year Award finalists list as Chicken Inn, their Bulawayo neighbours, also produced another shocker following the inclusion of their winger, Felix Chindungwe, into the top league's 2012 crème de la crème.

Although Bosso had a remarkable season, very few soccer pundits would have imagined the league title-chasing team providing the highest number of finalists by a single club in this year's edition of the premier soccer awards.

A selection panel comprised of 44 soccer experts was tasked with coming up with the list. Goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, midfielder Mthulisi Maposa, Innocent Mapuranga and striker Masimba Mambare all made it into the final 11.

This is the first time in the history of the club that four players were named as soccer star finalists in a single season, even during their four-year reign as league champions between 1998 and 2002.

The inclusion in the top 11 of Chicken Inn's Chindungwe, whose name even drew blanks in the minds of many football experts that constituted the selection panel, left a lot of unanswered questions as regards the credibility of those that are tasked with coming up with the list of the league's best players.

It is widely believed that the selection process is flawed with the selection in most cases being based on regional lines. Adam Ndlovu, the Chicken Inn coach, was even surprised that two of his players had actually made it into the final 11.

"I was not expecting this to happen. In my mind, I was thinking that maybe one of my players would make it. It came as a big surprise that two of my players actually made it into the list," Ndlovu said.

With two players on the list, the fast-food-funded side provided the same number of players with title-holders and Dynamos, who had only Denver Mukamba and Partson Jaure making their way into the "A" list.

A classic administrative boob cost Tawanda Muparati a place on the country's most popular calendar after he was erroneously included among a list of players sanctioned due to the Asiagate saga only to be cleared when the voting process had already been completed.

On the other hand, Kelvin Kaindu, the Bosso gaffer, was expecting six Highlanders players to make it into the 2012 "calendar."

"We were targeting six players to make it into the list. I am, however, happy to say that we broke the club record as regards the number of players that made it into the top 11 in a single season. The players worked hard for the entire period of the season. As a team, we also got our inspiration from the Almighty God," Kaindu, a Christian who attends Victory Fel­lowship, said.

The affable Zambian, a former Highlanders player himself, was bubbling with confidence, tipping himself to be crowned the Coach of the Year.

"The statistics speak for themselves. If I had four of my players making it into the final list, it automatically means that their coach is the best in the land.

"The Coach of the Year award is mine for the taking," declared Kaindu, who would become the second non-Zimbabwean to win the award after countryman Tenant Chilumba of Hwange last year.

Kaindu is expecting his players to do even better next season.

"I am praying that I will be able to retain the majority of the players that I worked with this season. We are aiming at assembling a strong squad next year as we aim at doing even better than we did this year," Kaindu told The Sunday Mail.

Kaindu said that for Highlanders, the 2012 season, was "one to remember."

"For us, it was a great, exciting season. We are, without doubt, waiting anxiously for the next season."

Besides the unfortunate Muparati, records availed by the convenors, who included the PSL and sponsor representatives and private media houses, also wrongly indicated that the Dynamos pair of Ocean Mushure and Augustine Mbara were not eligible for selection since they were implicated in the Asiagate scandal.

Muparati was exonerated by the Independent Ethics Committee whilst it was proved Mushore had never trav­elled with Monomotapa to the Far East in the first place since he was injured during the time.

Cherishing their happiest moment in their two-year flirtation with the top-flight league, Chicken Inn are already looking forward to taking part in the African safari.

"We are aiming at a top three finish. As you are aware, Highlanders are under Caf sanctions and chances of us taking their slot as third-place finishers are high.

"I am already looking at strengthen­ing my team as I look forward to the expected continental challenges," Ndlovu said.

Full list of finalists in the 2012 Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year Award

Rodwell Chinyengetere (Hwange), Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders), Mthulisi Maposa (Highlanders), Partson Jaure (Dynamos), Nelson Maziwisa (Sha­banie Mine), Denver Mukamba (Dynamos), Masimba Mambare (Highlanders), Innocent Mapuranga (Highlanders), Felix Chindungwe (Chicken Inn), Ronald Chitiyo (Monomotapa), Kuda Mahachi (Chicken Inn).