Will it be third time lucky for Sitali?
Footballer of the year finalist Joseph Sitali of Power Dynamos has attributed his nomination for the 2012 Zambian Footballer of the year to consistently performing well for his club.
Sitali was previously nominated for the award in 2009 and 2010 but lost out to Patrick Kabamba and Jacob Banda respectively.
This year he will compete for the award against his club mate Mukuka Mulenga and Zesco United’s Jackson Mwanza.
Sitali joined Power Dynamos at the age of 22 in 2007 and has since won one league championship, two Barclays Cups and three Samuel Zoom Ndhlovu Charity Shields. He was also the Power Dynamos 2011 footballer of the year.
The skillful midfielder scored four goals in the 2012 season and provided numerous assists for his fellow forwards from the right wing where he was mostly deployed despite his natural position being that of an attacking central midfielder.
Sitali’s outstanding performance in 2012 managed to catch the eye of Chipolopolo coach Herve Renard who invited him to the developmental side with which he played friendly internationals against Angola, Malawi, South Korea and Zimbabwe.
He was also called up to the senior Chipolopolo but was later dropped alongside Aaron Katebe for the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Sudan only to be recalled to camp a few days later as the chipolopolo prepared to face Ghana in the same competition.
Asked why he thought he deserved to be the 2012 footballer of the year, Sitali told fazfootball.com that divine power had played a major role and the fact that the only time he had missed a match for his club was only when he had been called up to the national team.
“I played in all matches which I was available for my club and being the captain meant that I had to give more than just 100%. I played even when I had knocks because my focus was for us to retain the league though in the end we lost it on the final day of the season,” said Sitali.
However, he was not oblivious to the achievements of his fellow nominees for the top award.
“Both Jackson Mwanza and Mukuka Mulenga are worthy finalists,” he said.
“Jackson Mwanza was probably the best player in the first round of the season and his goal contribution led to Zesco United leading the standings for the larger part of that round. But Mukuka Mulenga has been the best player in the second round hence his call up to the Chipolopolo.”
Nineteen year old Mukuka Mulenga joined Power Dynamos in 2010 from Kabwe Warriors where he was voted Young Footballer of The Year 2009.
Mukuka was part of the Zambia under-20 teams that won COSAFA championships on three occasions and of the team that got eliminated by Mali this year. He has one league championship, one Barclays Cup and two Charity Shield winners’ medals under his belt. He is also the only player who scored a hat trick in the 2012 season.
He scored two goals in the CAF Champions League, one in the Charity Shield and seven
in the MTN Super League.
Mwanza had an outstanding first round as his goals helped maintain Zesco United's position at the top of the standings He was voted MTN Player of The Month in May 2012 but played only a cameo role in the second round of the season as his performance was hampered by injuries.
He was out of action for one and a half months since September. His return of eleven goals in the 2012 season made him one of the most feared strikers in the MTN Super League.
"I did not expect to be among the best three players. Mukuka Mulenga deserves the award because he was outstanding and played excellent football," said Mwanza.