The Herald (Harare)

15 December 2012

Zimbabwe: It's Denver Mukamba

THERE is a new King in the domestic Premiership and he is teenage Dynamos star Denver Mukamba.

The midfielder capped a memorable season last night when he was crowned the Castle Lager Premier

Soccer League Soccer Star of the Year at a colourful banquet in Harare.

Mukamba emerged the season's finest after fending off the challenge of Highlanders' slippery attacking midfielder Masimba Mambare and Ronald Chitiyo of Monomotapa who got the bronze medal.

The lanky midfielder, who turns 20 next Friday, got an early birthday present as he walked away with the coveted trophy and a US$5 000 cheque.

His nearest rival Mambare, who had also been tipped for the top prize by some football pundits, received US$3 000 for a stellar performance with the Bulawayo giants while Chitiyo got US$2 000 for finishing among the top three.

The Soccer Stars of the Year selection was conducted by a panel comprising largely a cross section of the local sports journalists, coaches and a representative from the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe.

The lanky midfielder became the 10th Dynamos player to win the award following in the footsteps of record five-time winner George "Mastermind" Shaya, Enerst Kamba, David Mandigora, Japhet M'parutsa, Moses Chunga, Memory Mucherahowa, Tauya Murehwa, Murape Murape and last year's winner Washington Arubi.

At 19, Mukamba joins a clique of few players who won the crown as teenagers.

Legendary forward Peter Ndlovu won it when he was only 17 back in 1990 when he took the top-flight by storm in his debut season as a high schoolboy from Mzilikazi.

Malawian international Joseph Kamwendo, who remains the only expatriate to win the Soccer Star award, had just turned 19 when he scooped the award in 2005.

Mukamba had a brilliant spell last season but was somehow overlooked by the selectors on the stars' shortlist. He, however, got the consolation by winning the Rookie of the Year award.

The former Kiglon dribbling wizard refused to be buried by the disappointment as he came back stronger and showed maturity to lead the Harare giants in their historic season.

Mukamba was more than an entertainer as his presence in the Dynamos line-up proved enough inspiration to his teammates.

He also scored important goals and provided vital assists, besides being an entertainer to the DeMbare legion of fans.

Mukamba finished the season tied on 11 goals with Mambare, as the Premiership runners-up to Nelson Maziwisa in the race for the Golden Boot, and has now taken his earnings to US$12 500 in the last month.

The midfielder was voted DeMbare Player of the Year and received US$5 000 on top of the US$2 500 for being the Mbada Diamonds Man of the Tournament and Golden Boot winner.

It has been a brilliant year for the Glamour Boys. Dynamos got due rewards for a stellar season in which they retained a league and cup double as their mentor Callisto Pasuwa got the honours in the Coach of the Year category which carried a US$3 500 purse.

The award must have pleased Pasuwa who felt cheated the last time around.

The DeMbare gaffer missed the award last year despite leading the Harare giants to a remarkable league and cup double after joining them mid-season.

Pasuwa had taken charge from his friend Lloyd Mutasa and managed to make the team play to its potential following an alarming dip in form.

The Premiership's Golden Boot winner, Maziwisa, was also presented with his US$3 000 prize for the 18 goals that he scored for Shabanie Mine during the season.

The 27-year old grossed US$4 000 on the night as he also received an additional US$1 000 for being selected among the 11 finalists.

Highlanders' Ariel Sibanda also walked away with some rich pickings for being the Goalkeeper of the Year (US$2 000) and making the finalists (US$1 000).

Sibanda had a good season between the posts where he kept 20 clean sheets in 29 outings.

Sibanda conceded only 14 goals and was on four occasions voted the Goalkeeper of the Month during the season.

Chicken Inn's Kuda Mahachi, who also made the stars' shortlist, walked away with the Most Promising Under-20 Player award while Ruzive Ruzive emerged the best Referee of the Year.

Monomotapa bagged the Most Disciplined Team of the Year award.

Delta Corporation Marketing Director, Max Karombo, saluted the winners and the PSL for running the league in a professional manner this year.

In his congratulatory message, Karombo also dedicated a word of advice to the Soccer Star.

"Well done. May the Lord bless your future, and your stars continue to shine. Never let fame get into your head but let your feet step onto the path of true soccer greats -- this is just the beginning.

"We need to see you help our national team, the Warriors, qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. As you can see, you are just starting . . . the expectations of the whole nation are on your shoulders!" said Karombo.

Karombo said the just ended season has been "perfect" and full of excitement.

The race went all the way until the last day when Dynamos beat Highlanders to the title on goal difference.

Karombo said PSL worked tirelessly to make the season a success while also giving credit to all the stakeholders who include the referees, supporters and other sponsors.

"Delta Corporation remains thankful to the chairman of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, Mr Twine Phiri and his board, as well as his chief executive Kenny Ndebele and his management team.

"They have worked hard in ensuring that we all experience the thrills of the just ended successful season, an effort worth of all our praises -- well done!

"We are also grateful to them for the steadfast support and protection of our sponsorship rights in the face of challenges experienced towards the end of the season," said Karombo.

2012 Soccer Star of the Year Winners

Soccer Star of the Year (US$5 000) - Denver Mukamba (Dynamos)

First Runner-up (US$3 000) - Masimba Mambare (Highlanaders)

Second Runner-up (US$2 000) - Ronald Chitiyo (Monomotapa)

Goalkeeper of the Year (US$2 000) - Ariel Sibanda (Highlanders)

Most Promising U-20 (US$2 000) - Kuda Mahachi (Chicken Inn)

Top Goal Scorer (US$3 000) - Nelson Maziwisa (Shabanie Mine)

Coach of the Year (US$3 500) - Callisto Pasuwa

Most Disciplined Team (US$10 000) - Monomotapa

Referee of the Year (US$2 000) - Ruzive Ruzive

First Runner-up (US$1 500) - Thomas Kusosa

Second Runner-up (US$1 000) - Brighton Nyika

2012 Soccer Star XI finalists: Ariel Sibanda, Innocent Mapuranga, Masimba Mambare, Mthulisi Maphosa (All Highlanders), Felix Chindungwe, Kudakwashe Mahachi (Both Chicken Inn), Denver Mukamba, Partson Jaure (Both Dynamos), Ronald Chitiyo (Monomotapa), Rodwell Chinyengetere (Hwange), Nelson Maziwisa (Shabanie Mine).

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