Bulawayo Chiefs Star Chirinda Tipped for Top Soccer Award

The 22-year-old striker faces competition from Dynamos midfielder Tanaka Shandirwa and Ngezi Platinum Stars defender Takunda Benhura.

by Victor Adetimilehin

Obriel Chirinda, the 22-year-old striker who scored 12 goals for Bulawayo Chiefs in the Zimbabwean Premier Soccer League, is the favourite to win the Soccer Star of the Year award, according to former winner Zenzo Moyo.

Moyo, who won the award in 2000 while playing for Highlanders, praised Chirinda for his impressive performance despite the financial challenges faced by his club. He also said Chirinda deserved recognition for earning a call-up to the national team, the Warriors.

Moyo also named Dynamos midfielder Tanaka Shandirwa and Ngezi Platinum Stars defender Takunda Benhura as the main contenders for the coveted prize. Shandirwa was instrumental in helping Dynamos finish second in the league, while Benhura was part of the Ngezi Platinum Stars team that clinched their first league title in history.

The 11 finalists for the Soccer Star of the Year award were selected by sports journalists, club coaches and captains in a voting process held yesterday. The top three will be announced at a gala in Harare on Friday, where other awards such as Coach of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Most Promising Player of the Year, and Referee of the Year will also be presented.

The other players who made it to the final list are Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who kept 19 clean sheets, Highlanders defender Andrew Mbeba, DeMbare midfielder Donald Mudadi, Chicken Inn winger Michael Charamba, Ngezi Platinum captain Qadr Amini, Herentals midfielder Tinotenda Benza and Manica Diamonds forward Fortune Binzi.

The Soccer Star of the Year award is the most prestigious individual honour in Zimbabwean football. It was first awarded in 1969 and has been won by some of the country’s legends such as Peter Ndlovu, Moses Chunga, George Shaya and Norman Mapeza.

The award ceremony will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), which was founded in 1973 as the successor of the Rhodesian Football Association. ZIFA has organised various events to celebrate its golden jubilee, including a friendly match between the Warriors and the Zambia national team, which ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

The anniversary celebrations will culminate in an awards night next year, where ZIFA will honour the best players, coaches, referees and administrators of the past five decades. ZIFA president Felton Kamambo said the awards night will be a memorable occasion for the football fraternity and the nation at large.

“We want to celebrate our achievements and challenges as a football family and also inspire the future generations to take our game to greater heights,” he said.

Source: The Independent

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