The selection of this player is always tricky for those in charge as the masses that follow the game would often have a word or two of their own to add once a decision is made – and often, the majority of such views would be laced with disapproval. As things stand, several names crop up when the different soccer enthusiasts are asked to say who their finest player was during the course of the championship.
Selectors will always come with excuses spiced with technical terms to defend their choices, and it is at this particular period that work is being done towards finalizing the ultimate individual prize winners.
The winning player should have consistently been his club’s livewire in the tournament; he should have shown good-decision making; he should have been good at implementing the mentor’s strategies and game plan; a disciplined sportsman even. These are some of the parameters the selectors will throw at doubting Thomases, met of course, by differing opinions as others give their own versions of selection criteria. It is BG Sport’s argument however, that even within the filled-up net of potential winners, among them Ofentse Mmipi, Tebogo Sembowa, Mompati Thuma and Lemponye Tshireletso, it is Ronald Chikomo who stands out as the real contender for the coveted P40 000 that goes with the competition’s player of the tournament award.
The Gaborone United’s prolific striker who was brought in by the club’s former head coach Stanley Mwanga has been instrumental in the club’s passage to the ultimate crown worth a million pula. The money machine’s all round attacker was always an omnipotent factor in every move that resulted in a goal for United – the very same goals that are now responsible for the club becoming a million pula richer. As much as he was posting glittering performances to delight The Reds’ faithful, he equally deserves a place in the glitter of receiving the most sought prize of the tournament at player level. Most opposing sides will agree that the twenty seven-year old Chikomo who hails from Zambia proved to be a thorn in the flesh of even the most respected of defenders in the premier league. Physically robust and nimble in his movements on or off the ball, the barely diminutive striker was forever a threat in all areas of attack.
If he was not scoring a goal, he was providing someone else to score. If he was not crossing dangerous balls from especially the right flank, he was menacingly lying in ambush inside the box, ready to pounce on the periphery of unsuspecting defenders. In the games he played leading to their cup final victory, he displayed blistering speed that was often complemented by his perfect technical aptitude, always running hither and thither, and always keeping his markers busy for the duration of matches. Township Rollers will especially remember the irreparable damage he meted on them in the semi-final clash played at the UB Stadium, where he made of with two goals to his name. He also possesses a dribbling wizardry that often excited football lovers across the rival divide, as well as a rare calmness inside the box, that saw him score goals in a manner that made it look easy – from similar positions his counterparts would miss or huff the balls away. His menacing speed and cunning movements often opened the way for the likes of teammates Moemedi Moatlhaping and Sembowa, the same players who added to the misery of Rollers in that semi-final first leg clash United won 4-1.
The dreadlocked Zambian carried with him the mental strength of a man with a mission; and it was such demeanor that inspired his mates to the ultimate prize. In the latter stages of the tournament when his opponents made it their mission to keep him in check, they made way for other dangerous strikers such as Kgololo Kgogobi, and it was making life difficult for the opponents knowing that either way, Chikomo’s presence on the field always spelt danger. In the final, he proved to be Major David Bright’s strategist as tactically, he displayed soccer pitch brains. Oftentimes he lost his markers, misplaced the likes of Thuma and Ndiapo Letsholathebe to open the way for his partners in attack as evidenced by the goal scored by Sembowa before he too calmly slotted another to seal a 2-1 victory.
As things stand again, no player has scored more goals in the tournament than he has. He is instead on par with other top scorers with four goals. Far behind him as a contender for the same prize of the tournament’s best is of course BDF XI’s Thuma – the senior national team center back who has shown leadership temperament as a captain for his side throughout the championship. He also oozed confidence in his marking, covering and supporting other players in ensuring his club’s defence remained watertight as shown by the few goals his side conceded even against an often free-scoring Mochudi Centre Chiefs. Sembowa is also a faint contender, having also contributed immensely to his club’s match-winning goals. He also has scored four vital goals but was also helpful with his mobility that helped United’s opponents to be divided in attention. He remains the only player to have won the Mascom Top 8 twice – in consecutive years – with two different clubs after winning it last season with Rollers.