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DYNAMOS midfielder Tawanda Muparati’s reign as Castle Lager Premiership Soccer Star ends tonight following a quiet season.

And the Glamour Boy believes it’s going to be a tight call when his successor is named at a banquet in Harare.The contest for domestic football’s most coveted individual prize has been narrowed down to 11 players with the ZPC Kariba trio of Dennis Dauda, Limited Chikafa and goalkeeper Tendai Hove and Dynamos midfielder Stephen Alimenda among the front-runners.

Muparati had a difficult season, plagued by injuries and failed to make it on the shortlist this year because of lack of game time and subdued performances.

Highlanders forward Charles Sibanda is the only survivor from last season and is firmly among the dark horses in this year’s race.

But Muparati, a distinguished guest at the ceremony tonight in his capacity as the previous winner, yesterday tipped his Dynamos teammates to continue with their dominance at the awards.

“I think the panel came up with a balanced list for the 11 finalists. I am not sure, though, which criterion was used, but in my opinion all the guys deserve to be on the calendar because they were selected by people who were closely monitoring their performances throughout the season.

“However, the trend over the years has been that the team that wins the league usually provides the Soccer Star. So, in this case, I would be gly persuaded to think that a Dynamos player will win it.

“But all the other players have done well and if you look at ZPC Kariba they did their best and it won’t be surprising if one of their players is named. It’s difficult to tell,” said Muparati.

Dynamos have produced Soccer Stars in the last three seasons, starting from 2011 when Washington Arubi won the award before handing over the crown to Denver Mukamba in 2012.

Both players moved to South Africa after helping the Harare giants win titles.

Muparati won the accolade last year ahead of Harare City’s Silas Songani who is now based in Denmark.

“This has been a very subdued year for me. I think the injuries contributed a lot and obviously there is always the pressure to live up to the billing as everyone wants to see how you are going to perform after being crowned.

“It’s a challenge for me to pick myself up and probably make the finalists next year,” said Muparati.

ZPC Kariba have the biggest number of players on the shortlist after three players made it among the season’s best who were selected by a panel that consisted of sports journalists, Premiership coaches and the captains from the 16 clubs last month.

Their defender Dauda, who stood tall to help the newcomers launch a serious challenge for the title, has been heavily tipped for the top prize.

Other contenders are goalkeeper Tendai Hove and Chikafa who breathed life into his waning career with the newly-promoted side.

The ceremony will also see the crowning of the Coach of the Year, which is a two-horse race between Dynamos’ Callisto Pasuwa and ZPC Kariba’s Saul Chaminuka.

World Boxing Council welterweight champion Charles Manyuchi and three-time winner of the Comrades marathon, Stephen Muzhingi, are expected to grace the ceremony.

2014 Soccer Star finalists

Tendai Hove, Limited Chikafa, Dennis Dauda (ZPC Kariba), David Kutyauripo (Harare City), Stephen Alimenda, Themba Ndlovu (Dynamos), Thabani Kamusoko (FC Platinum), Charles Sibanda (Highlanders), Tendai Samanja (CAPS United), Evans Rusike (Hwange), Kudakwashe Musharu (How Mine)

Source : The Herald