Mafu tips Manondo, Musona for Soccer Star gong

Bongani Mafu

FORMER Warriors assistant coach, Bongani Mafu is tipping Caps United striker William Manondo and FC Platinum forward Walter Musona to battle for the coveted Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year award.

With the curtain coming down on this year’s soccer season won by FC Platinum, the remaining major question still to be answered is: who will grab the Soccer Star of the Year award?

While several names have popped up in the public discourse over the potential winner of the prestigious award, Mafu — a former assistant coach to Benjani Mwaruwari at Ngezi Platinum — strongly believes the award is a toss -up between Manondo and Musona.

A panel of coaches, football writers and team captains are expected to come up with the outstanding 11 players of the season.

Despite Caps United’s struggles this season, Manondo has scored 16 goals thus far, while Musona who was instrumental in FC Platinum’s league title success, has netted 13 goals to date.

Mafu also said among those likely to make it onto the calendar are Highlanders’ Divine Mhindirira, WhaWha’s Calum English-Brown, Blessing Majarira of Herentals, Black Rhinos’  Eli Ilunga, Bulawayo City’s Melikhaya Ncube and Yadah defender Lenox Mucheto, had a decent season.

They will, however, face competition from several other stars including FC Platinum midfielder Blessing Moyo — who was one of the outstanding players for the Zvishavane team.

There is also FC Platinum’s Thandowenkosi Ngwenya, Chicken Inn forward Brian Muza — who has scored 11 goals thus far — and Highlanders’ Lynoth Chikukwa on 11 goals to his name, among several others.

Meanwhile, Mafu says the domestic football standards have deteriorated and reckons for it to improve, traditional football giants Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United should invest in quality players.

He said once that happens, domestic football will come back to life.

“For the bigger teams in the land, I found that they lacked the personnel of high quality because the so-called lower teams or smaller teams can play better than them. The better players were attracted to where the money was and that took away a little bit of flair out of the competition because the traditional (big) teams have to be on fire for our league to be anything to write home about. If my team qualifies for the Premier Soccer League today with the 20 players that I have had since Division Two, it cannot really drive the PSL. The PSL needs the big boys; it’s not a secret. So we need to sort that out and make it better next time,” Mafu said.

Highlanders last won the league title in 2006, Dynamos in 2014 and Caps United in 2016 with Norman Mapeza and his FC Platinum winning the last four seasons.

Mafu, a former Highlanders coach, said this season’s football was affected by the COVID-19.

“The standard of football in the country was heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The honing of the new players was difficult because the senior players themselves were rusty and others had picked bad habits, social football habits that end up with people having lots of beer to drink,” Mafu said.

He added: “That did not only hit the players. I think that even refereeing standards went down heavily because of lack of practice from some or most of the officials. The football matches themselves were also not a nice view or sight because combination play was lacking, continuous passing and consecutive build-ups were nowhere to be seen.”

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