Category Archives: Sport

Ahmad gets Infantino backing

ZIFA president, Philip Chiyangwa, could prove to be the kingmaker in the Confederations of African Football (Caf) elections after he gathered 24 African football association (FA) presidents and Fifa boss, Gianni Infantino in Harare, at a gathering which Caf presidential candidate, Ahmad, might have used to drum up support.

BY HENRY MHARA

Confederation of African Football presidential aspirant, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar at Zifa boss, Philip Chiyangwa’s 58th birthday party at Harare International Conference Centre last night

Confederation of African Football presidential aspirant, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar at Zifa boss, Philip Chiyangwa’s 58th birthday party at Harare International Conference Centre last night

Ahmad will come up against Caf incumbent, Issa Hayatou in an election set for March 16 in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia.
Chiyangwa is Ahmad’s election manager and has claimed they have enough support to win the election.

Yesterday’s gathering was said to be for celebrating Chiyangwa’s 58th birthday and his ascendancy to Cosafa presidency, but behind the scenes, Hayatou’s jettisoning could be the real reason for the meeting.

Infantino, who was accompanied by Fifa secretary-general, Fatima Samoura, arrived just after 9pm at the glittering gathering.

Among the 24 were Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, Danny Jordan of South Africa and Liberia FA president, Musa Bility.

Earlier in the day, Chiyangwa and his project received a major boost after Pinnick and Bility openly threw their weight behind Ahmad’s candidacy.

“I’ve officially endorsed the candidacy of Ahmad today,” Bility told the media.

Ahmad, the president of Madagascar’s football federation, seeks to depose Hayatou, who has held the position since 1988 and is gunning for a record eighth term.

Bility, who once coveted the Fifa presidency, said he was backing Ahmad because he wanted to see change at the Cairo-hosted continental football body.

“It’s time to move beyond a three decades long reign.

“Caf is not a kingdom. I think there could never have been a better time to honour the life president Hayatou with a befitting event and bring this era to an end.

“I’m standing up for change join me,” he posted on an influential WhatsApp group.

“Either we perish fighting for change or live on like chickens. I’ll rather perish fighting to give Africa the joy football brings into our homes and communities than living on explaining why we are not going anywhere.”

The endorsement is another shot in the arm for Ahmad’s candidature, which has received the backing of the Southern African regional football bloc, Cosafa, as well as Pinnick.

Pinnick said Caf needs a “new generation” of leadership, following the change at the top of the world governing body Fifa.

He cited “post-election differences between Infantino, and Hayatou, which are irreconcilable”.

Pinnick acknowledged that Hayatou could still win, but said if he did, the veteran Cameroonian would need to be open to different influences.

“You have to listen to a larger audience instead of just a tiny cabal, you have to know it goes beyond you,” Pinnick said.

“I will definitely work with him if he wins, but my prayer is we need a bridge builder and that person is Ahmad.”

Infantino is expected to meet President Robert Mugabe, tour the Zifa Village and a proposed sight for the new Zifa headquarters in Harare before he leaves later in the evening.

Zimbabwe look to keep series alive

Chris Mpofu and Sean Williams pulled off a heist in the third one-day international (ODI) to keep Zimbabwe in the hunt in the ongoing series. After succumbing rather tamely in the first two encounters, the hosts combined with Afghanistan to put up a classic of the highest order at the Harare Sports Club.

Cricbuzz

Graeme Cremer

Graeme Cremer

However, that was only the first step towards keeping the interest levels alive in the series. Irrespective of how big or small the margin is for today’s clash, Zimbabwe will have to win the encounter to ensure there are no dead rubbers in the series.

It’s been a series largely dominated by bowlers, with Zimbabwe pacer, Tendai Chatara, leading the pack with eight wickets from three matches.

More importantly, he has got breakthroughs at crucial times. After breaking important partnerships in the first two matches, he laid the platform for Zimbabwe’s defence in the last encounter by snaring early wickets.

The likes of Mpofu and Graeme Cremer have also chipped in well with the ball, but that has been all for the hosts in a series where they have been largely outplayed with both bat and ball.

On the batting front, Craig Ervine has led the charts, albeit with only 72 runs from three matches at an average of 36. Apart from him, only Tarisai Musakanda (33.50) and Malcolm Waller (40.00) have managed to average above 20 in the series.

Afghanistan, barring the lower-order collapse in the third ODI, have fared far better. With each passing match, they are imposing their authority in limited-overs cricket, much like they are doing in the Intercontinental Cup.

Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Shahzad and Asghar Stanikzai are the top three run-getters in the series. None of them have amassed more than 100 runs, but that is only reflective of how much the series has favoured the bowlers.

Even as a firing top-order bodes well for Afghanistan, the fact that the lower-order hasn’t quite contributed, is a matter of worry. If Zimbabwe manage to push the contest a bit further than they did in the first two matches, Afghanistan could wilt under pressure, like they did on Tuesday.

For Afghanistan, all the bowlers have chipped in effectively. Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan, however, have been the wreckers-in-chief. They have bagged seven wickets each and will remain key to Afghanistan’s chances of closing out the series on Friday.

Squads: Zimbabwe (from): Peter Moor(w), Solomon Mire, Tarisai Musakanda, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Ryan Burl, Malcolm Waller, Graeme Cremer(c), Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava, Chris Mpofu, Sikandar Raza, Nathan Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Wellington Masakadza, Donald Tiripano, Carl Mumba, Hamilton Masakadza

Afghanistan (from): Mohammad Shahzad(w), Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Stanikzai(c), Samiullah Shenwari, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Fareed Ahmad, Ihsanullah Janat, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Dawlat Zadran, Karim Janat, Aftab Alam.

Rains threaten ZNA semi-final clash

The Highlanders-FC Platinum ZNA Charities Shield semi-final clash hangs in the balance due to the poor drainage system that has left Barbourfields Stadium waterlogged

The Highlanders-FC Platinum ZNA Charities Shield semi-final clash hangs in the balance due to the poor drainage system that has left Barbourfields Stadium waterlogged

Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE ZNA Charities Shield semi-final tie between Bulawayo giants Highlanders and FC Platinum set for Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday hangs in the balance due to incessant rains that have left the ceremonial home of football in Bulawayo waterlogged.

Chances are that the encounter could be shifted to Luveve Stadium, which has better drainage than Barbourfields, although the grass needs to be cut while tents might need to be erected at the VIP sitting area.

The poor drainage system at Barbourfields Stadium further vindicates Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane’s view, which he expressed recently that contractors hired to renovate various sports facilities ahead of the 2014 African Union Sports Council Region Five Under-20 Games did a shoddy job.

The facility was handed over to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for the massive renovation project on September 30, 2014.  Changes that should have been made included the addition of two more dressing rooms and extension of the existing ones, while the VIP section saw 120 bucket seats being erected over and above the work on the drainage system.

But a mere two years later the facility’s drainage system seems worse off with mere showers rendering the playing field unplayable. A visit by a Chronicle news crew yesterday afternoon found the whole area, even the outside grounds waterlogged. Unless the skies clear, it might not be possible to stage a high profile match at the stadium by Sunday.

The Met Department has already said rains will continue pounding the country for the next 10 days.

On Wednesday Highlanders and Bulawayo City had to play their training friendly match at the outside grounds.

However, that has not stopped the army in their preparations for the 2017 edition of the tournament that has been dominated by the Bulawayo giants since 2015.

Highlanders, the defending champions of the Army Charities Shield after beating Harare City last year, will be seeking to tighten their grip on the trophy, which they also won in 2015.

They face an equally determined FC Platinum side aiming to assert themselves as a domestic soccer powerhouse.

The other semi-final will feature Harare rivals Dynamos and Caps United, who will clash at the giant National Sports Stadium on the same day.

The winners of the two semi-final matches will meet in the final to be played on March 5 at a venue to be advised.

Fireworks are expected in Harare as DeMbare and Makepekepe rekindle their rivalry in a potentially explosive encounter at the National Sports Stadium, with both teams having had contrasting fortunes of late.

Caps United are the Premier Soccer League champions and are in the Caf Champions League tournament. Dynamos on the other hand are out to redeem themselves after having a largely forgettable 2016.

Gate charges for the semi-final matches have been pegged at $3 for the rest of the ground, $5 for VIP and $10 for the VVIP.

The Commander ZNA Charities Soccer Shield is one of the major fundraising events lined up by the army in its quest to assist the needy. Other fundraising events for this year are the Charities Ball to be held in Harare on April 7, the Bakers’ Inn and Army Charities Dinner Dance and Golf Tournament to take place in Bulawayo on September 1-2 and the Charity Horse Race to be held on October 7.

The ZNA Charities has five charitable organisations which are; Tsanga Lodge Convalescent Centre, Army Widows and Orphans Benevolent Fund, ZNA Benevolent Fund, ZNA Schools Welfare Trust Fund as well as the ZNA Patients Welfare Fund.

Chevrons look to keep Series hopes alive

Chris Mpofu set in motion a stunning comeback for Zimbabwe with two wickets in the 27th over. — ESPNCricInfo

Chris Mpofu set in motion a stunning comeback for Zimbabwe with two wickets in the 27th over. — ESPNCricInfo

Mehluli Sibanda in Harare
ZIMBABWE will be seeking to keep the five-match One-Day International cricket contest against Afghanistan alive by winning the fourth game at Harare Sports Club today.

The home team denied Afghanistan the series win on Tuesday courtesy of a sensational comeback to win the third ODI by three runs.

A win for Afghanistan would have seen the Asians win the series for the third time in a row against Zimbabwe. However, Zimbabwe denied the visitors the early satisfaction.

With two matches to go and the tourists leading 2-1, any of the two teams can still win the series. In fact, the series could be decided today if Afghanistan win, but Zimbabwe can give themselves a chance with a victory.

On Tuesday, Afghanistan seemed to have won the series at 121/5 in pursuit of 130 for victory. However, Zimbabwe showed an unbelievable fighting spirit to pick up five wickets for five runs.

Pace bowler Christopher Mpofu and left-arm spinner Sean Williams played a vital part in that Afghan collapse, with the latter picking up the last wicket.

The Zimbabwe bowlers have been magnificent throughout the series, but have been heavily let down by the batsmen, who have failed to either chase or set challenging scores for Afghanistan.

Williams was brought in for veteran Hamilton Masakadza, but he too failed to add the much needed impetus to the batting line-up.

After an off day from training on Wednesday, both teams returned to fine tune at the match venue yesterday.

Zimbabwe trained in the morning, while Afghanistan had their turn in the afternoon. National team coach Heath Streak said there was a renewed sense of belief after Tuesday’s win. Streak is, however, still concerned by the lack of runs from his batsmen.

“We have kept the series alive, it’s an important game for us to make sure we go into the last game with hopes of winning the series. We threw ourselves a lifeline with the way we bowled and fielded on Tuesday. The batting unit knows it has to improve, our batters are not scoring enough runs,” said Streak.

“The fact is that their job is to score runs, there is certainly not a lack of practice and we are trying to work on their mental side. In as much as we can support them, it’s up to them to implement the plan,” he said.

On possible changes to the starting 11, Streak indicated that with Sikandar Raza still unfit, they will probably back the same players that took to the field on Tuesday.

Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Tarisai Musakanda, Craig Ervine, Williams, Ryan Burl and Malcolm Waller have a heavy load on their shoulders to score runs.
Tendai Chatara, Richard Ngarava, Mpofu, Graeme Cremer and Williams make up the bowling unit, which has been magnificent throughout the series.

For Afghanistan, Mohammad Shahzad is their most destructive batsman, who is capable of dismantling any bowling attack. Other consistent performers with the bat for the tourists are skipper Asghar Stanikzai, Noor Ali Zadran and Mohammad Nabi.

Their slow bowlers, Amir Hamza, Rashid Khan and Nabi have caused all sorts of problems for the Zimbabwe batsmen.

Seamers Gulbadin Naib and Farid Ahmad caused some anxious moments for the Zimbabwe batsmen on Tuesday and they will look to continue with that brilliant show today.

Squads:

Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (captain), Peter Moor (wicketkeeper), Ryan Burl, Tarisai Musakanda, Malcolm Waller, Wellington Masakadza, Donald Tiripano, Tendai Chatara, Christopher Mpofu, Nathan Waller, Craig Ervine, Solomon Mire, Richard Ngarava, Carl Mumba, Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams

Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Mohammad Shahzad (wicketkeeper), Noor Ali Zadran, Ihsanullah Janat, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shaheedi, Samiullah Shenwari, Najeebullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Kareem Janat, Dawlat Zadran, Farid Ahmad, Aftab Alam.

@Mdawini_29

Infantino headlines bash

SEAL OF APPROVAL . . . Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane (right) discusses a few issues with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in Harare last night

SEAL OF APPROVAL . . . Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane (right) discusses a few issues with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in Harare last night

Eddie Chikamhi and Paul Mundandi

FIFA president Gianni Infantino headlined a cast of high-profile guests at a colourful night at the Harare International Conference Centre where he joined hands with the continental football leadership in celebrating Philip Chiyangwa’s birthday and rise to become COSAFA leader.Infantino arrived at the Harare International Airport around 8:30pm and was welcomed by officials from ZIFA and the Ministry of Sports and Recreation.

The Italian lawyer was among the rich list of football dignitaries which also included a delegation from the world football governing body, football leaders from across the continent, high-profile businesspeople and locals from all walks of life.

Infantino arrived abode a private jet and was quickly whisked to the HICC where he was given a red carpet treatment as he joined in the fun with the other invited guests in a five-star bashed hosted in honour of Chiyangwa.

The FIFA boss is expected pay a courtesy call on President Mugabe today and will also visit ZIFA’s development programmes that include the ZIFA Village which was built under the FIFA Goal Project.

The historic visit to Zimbabwe by the FIFA boss has been highly welcomed because of its significance towards football development and in terms of sports tourism.

The Italian lawyer, who ascended to the helm of world football in February last year, appear to be gaining popularity in Africa following the decision to increase the participating teams at the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 starting from 2026.

South Africa Football Association president Danny Jordaan was also among the guests.

Jordaan hailed the gesture by the COSAFA president to bring together football leaders from across the continent on a different platform outside the stadium.

He told reporters on his arrival at the Harare International Airport that what Chiyangwa did has been lacking on the continent for many years.

He said unity was key for development and believes African football leaders would only advance development and co-operation through regular gatherings whether formal or informal.

“It’s another gathering of football officials. Many are here and others are coming. These things are rare on the continent. The only time that we are around in the stadium is when we compete but while we compete we are must also cooperate.

“So co-operation and competition are two sides of what is required to see progress in football. And these gatherings give us the opportunity to discuss, to exchange ideas, to look at the future of African football and the direction of African football,” said Jordaan.

The SAFA president said the get-together was especially important considering they are coming from another huge gathering in South Africa where all the 54 countries had been invited for an unprecedented summit with the FIFA boss.

The executive summit discussed general issues in the game and Infantino took time to explain FIFA’’s plans to expand the World Cup and changes to its development structures.

The Italian football boss said FIFA wants to increase the number of African teams playing in the World Cup after expanding the competition from 32 to 46 participants from 2026.

Africa currently have five slots and want the number doubled.

Jordaan said they discussed issues in the spirit of development and was hopeful of the future.

He also hailed the Africa Cup of Nations and made a special mention of Zimbabwe who he said had one of the best attacks at the tournament.

“I think it was good. For the first time we gathered many of the African countries together with some European countries. Germany was there, Slovenia was there and to focus on the path forward in terms of where our global football is going.

“One of the focus area was around the discussion of the next World Cup for 2018. Everyone endorsed it, and as well to develop on FIFA’s forward, development programme and the success the African nations have achieved.

“We come from the Africa Cup of Nations, of course. Zimbabwe came with a good team but they must tighten their defence.

Their attack was probably one of the best in that tournament.

“And many other countries, Uganda did well and we look forward to more progress on the African continent particularly in Southern Africa where we are part of the members of COSAFA and CECAFA,” said Jordaan.

Meanwhile, Frans Mbidi the Namibian Football Association president also felt football leaders should play a bigger role in eliminating bias against Southern Africa.

The Namibia FA president was happy to be in Zimbabwe which he described as his second home.

Mbidi came to the helm of Namibian Football in December 2014 and he is also the vice-president to Chiyangwa at the COSAFA level.

“We are not just partners in football with Zimbabwe. We enjoy cordial relations and our relations date back.

“Football in Africa, especially the southern part, is very good but we feel that it’s now time we stand up and eliminate the biasness towards the Southern Africa countries.

“I feel as Africans we are one and they should be fairness in the way we treat and see other countries as far as football is concerned,” he said

Dynamos launch branded water to generate revenue

HARARE giants, Dynamos have launched branded mineral water in partnership with Afhold Investments, as the club, who are struggling to fund operations, seek to capitalise on their huge support base to generate revenue.

BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

A Dynamos player on the attack

A Dynamos player on the attack

Afhold Investments marketing director, Tafara Madhara said they are projecting to sell about 500 000 bottles of mineral water every month, with Dynamos set to get 6c per bottle.

Madhara, speaking during the launch yesterday, said their partnership was fuelled by their desire and passion to support soccer and that Dynamos would reap huge rewards from the deal.

“Soccer is the most popular sport in the country. However, despite its popularity, clubs are still finding it difficult to make ends meet. This has partly been as a result of us the business community and the clubs failing to unlock the commercial opportunities within the sport. Piracy of team merchandise has also taken its toll on clubs and they have failed to enjoy economic benefits that could be derived from their brands. The greatest clubs in the world have realised this potential and are exploiting their brands through franchises like this to generate revenues for their clubs. Real Madrid, for instance, racked in ₧247 million in 2016 marketing from their brand.

The Dynamos deal has potential to rack in up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year if we all play our part. It is against this background that Afhold and Dynamos came up with this initiative, which we hope will see us do greater things,” he said.

The mineral water will be sold at leading fast food stores, shops, restaurants, bars and other places including churches.

Dynamos president, Keni Mubaiwa said they were happy to enter into the deal, which he said would help them overcome challenges they are facing as a club. He said the mineral water will start being sold at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday during the ZNA Charity Shield semi-final against Caps United.

The two teams face off in the season opener for the right to play in the final. Bulawayo giants Highlanders clash with FC Platinum in the other semi-final clash at Barbourfieds Stadium on the same day.

The Glamour Boys also took the opportunity to introduce new members they roped into their executive, with Graham Mafoko coming in as acting secretary general to replace Webster Chikengezha, while Moses Chikwairo, the club’s former treasurer, bounced back as a committee member.

Chikengezha indicated he was quitting last year, but is yet to officially tender his resignation to the club. He has stopped attending executive meetings.

Africa tells FIFA it wants 10 places at expanded World Cup

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Africa will be looking to double the number of places it has at an expanded World Cup, the continent’s football association presidents have told soccer’s world governing body FIFA.

Africa wants at least 10 spots in the 48-team World Cup that FIFA president Gianni Infantino has proposed from 2026 as the continent gave a ringing endorsement to the expansion plans.

“All associations back the idea to expand the World Cup and there is the hope that Africa can have 10 places in future,” South African FA chief Danny Jordaan said on Wednesday.

That would be double the five places the continent has at the next two finals in Russia next year and Qatar in 2022.

Europe is seeking a minimum of 16 places, up from 13, and wants its sides to be separated in the 16 opening round groups of three teams, with the top two advancing to a 32-team knockout phase under plans approved by FIFA last month.

Asia are expected to get eight to nine places, compared to 4-1/2 now, and South America, which has 10 member countries, a total of six, also up from 4-1/2.

The CONCACAF region, made up of the Caribbean, Central and North American countries, would get 6-1/2 places, compared to 3-1/2, with Oceania, the small Pacific Islands confederation, having one automatic place at the finals instead of 1/2.

Inter-continental playoffs between countries with 1/2 a place would determine the additional spots at the finals.

The final allocation of places must be passed by the FIFA Council.

THREE-DAY SUMMIT

The subject of the expanded World Cup featured prominently at a three-day summit between FIFA chief Infantino and more than 50 presidents of the African FAs.

The talks were behind closed doors but FIFA officials told Reuters on Wednesday that Infantino had outlined plans for an expanded World Cup and new development assistance for member countries.

It is the first time a summit of this type has been held, giving Africa’s FA representatives informal contact with the FIFA leadership, including the world governing body’s recently appointed general secretary Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura.

“It has been a very good idea and a chance for the associations to also speak directly to the FIFA leadership about their issues and concerns,” said Ahmad, the president of the Madagascar Football Federation.

Ahmad, who uses just one name, is running for the presidency of the Confederation of African Football against long-standing incumbent Issa Hayatou of Cameroon next month.

The summit comes three weeks before the CAF elections in Addis Ababa on March 16 and the FIFA event in Johannesburg has been dominated by intense lobbying, delegates said.

“Most of the business at this summit is actually outside of the conference room, in the corridors and the hotel lobby as different candidates try to persuade associations to vote for them,” said one African FA chief, who asked not to be named.

PRESIDENT ON WARRIORS

President Mugabe

President Mugabe

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
PRESIDENT Mugabe feels the Warriors should be pained by letting down Southern Africa when they crashed at the group stages of the 2017 Nations Cup finals.

He believes it was a tournament where Zimbabwe could have done better had the Warriors found the character to win their opening Group B match against Algeria.

Callisto Pasuwa’s men were the only Southern African representatives in Gabon but suffered a meltdown as they became the first troops of Warriors to fail to win a match at the AFCON finals.

They picked just a point from their three games, to finish bottom of their group, after conceding the highest number of goals in the first phase of the tournament.

Traditional regional football heavyweights Zambia and South Africa, who have won the Nations Cup in the past, fell by the wayside in the battles for a place to qualify for the 2017 AFCON finals.

With the Warriors targeting, at least, a quarter-final place, their elimination at the group stages, without a victory to their credit, came at a huge price with Pasuwa’s contract as the team’s head coach being terminated in the brutality of the painful post-mortem that followed their Gabonese adventure.

The Warriors were just eight minutes from causing the first biggest upset of the 2017 AFCON finals, in their opening Group B showdown against Algeria, only for 2016 CAF African Footballer of the Year, Riyadh Mahrez, to grab a very late equaliser and force a share of the spoils at the Stade de Franceville.

The goal shattered the Warriors’ spirits, with the players heads notably dropping as they battled the demons inflicted by a lost opportunity to start their campaign with a bang, and they leaked half-a-dozen goals in their following two defeats at the hands of Senegal and Tunisia to crash out of the group stage, for the third straight time, at Africa’s biggest football festival.

President Mugabe feels it would possibly have been a different adventure for the Warriors in Gabon had they held on to their 2-1 lead, in that opening match against Algeria, and defeated the Desert Foxes with the confidence generated from that possible victory blowing winds in their sails in their Gabonese adventure.

In his traditional interview with ZBCTV to mark his 93rd birthday, President Mugabe said he felt the Warriors’ confidence dipped after their failure to collect maximum points against Algeria and they lost their way in their subsequent matches against Senegal and Tunisia.

The President, who said he didn’t support any of the local football sides, revealed he didn’t watch the two defeats suffered at the hands of the Lions of Teranga and the Carthage Eagles.

“Soccer? I thought you would ask me about the performance rather than which team I support,” the President said after being asked which was his favourite local team and also his views on the Warriors’ performance in Gabon.

“The losing (by the Warriors) surprised me after we had performed that well, reasonably well against Algeria but, also in that context I do not know why we couldn’t have managed to stick to the 2-1 score that was in favour of us, and we allowed Algeria to even score towards the end of the match.

“I think that is what brought in the loss of confidence, loss of spirit, hence the team became dispirited thereafter.

“The next matches where they got 0-0 (in terms of points earned), I never watched I was told about the results.

“The matches will be played again in the future. So, it’s not the end of everything but when you lose, in the context which you will have attracted the confidence of the whole of our Southern Africa, you have become the representative, really, of Southern Africa, then it must pain us.

“It must pain you because in a sense you have let down Southern Africa. But that’s to be accepted in sporting events, isn’t it? You win, you lose but, of course, you must not be losing all the time.”

President Mugabe said the country needed to develop its football but he questioned why FIFA said the Government should not intervene in the administrative affairs of the game when the sport’s leaders usually turned to the State with begging bowls to help them in their various programmes.

The Government injected $1 million into the Warriors’ Gabonese adventure with Pasuwa getting about $56 000, his coaching staff getting about $42 000 each while the players got about $28 000 each from the combined fund set aside for their 2017 Nations Cup campaign.

NetOne poured $250 000 into that campaign.

“We must develop our soccer well. I do not know what it is we must do,” President Mugabe said.

“On one hand, they say we must not interfere with the arrangements in our soccer teams, we must leave it alone but, on the other hand, they cry for help to the State, help us. So which is which?

“If we are to help them we must also expect good results, isn’t it? Kwete kungoti tibatsirei. Tikakubatsiraika tinenge tichiti tibatsireiwo nekuhwina.”

The President also spoke about ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa, who has now risen to become the COSAFA boss, describing the Harare businessman’s phenomenal rise in the leadership circles of regional football as a promotion.

Chiyangwa has invited FIFA president Gianni Infantino for a two-day tour of this country.

Infantino, who will be accompanied by FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura — the first woman to become the second most powerful person in world football — is scheduled to arrive in Harare this evening.

“But I notice VaGushungo vakumusoro uko, vakabva kuno, VaChiyangwa, vakapromotwa,” President Mugabe said.

“He is up there. He is Southern Africa now, COSAFA.”

President Mugabe said he didn’t support any particular local football team, and was a fan of all the clubs, although his sons — Robert and Chatunga —were supporters of Zimbabwe champions CAPS United.

“Ah, I don’t support, I don’t support any team in particular, definitely, but my boys support, I think it’s CAPS, but I don’t support any,” said President Mugabe.

“I support all of them, when I watch, in the context of maybe Dynamos vs CAPS, I say good luck to the winners and hard luck to the losers. ‘You will do well next time,’ to the losers.”

The two Harare giants meet in the pre-season ZNA Army Charities semi-final showdown at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday in a battle that is likely to set the tone for what promises to be a bruising battle for honours this year.

President on Warriors: It must pain you, you let down Southern Africa: In sport you win, lose but not lose all the time’

President Mugabe

President Mugabe

Robson Sharuko, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Mugabe feels the Warriors should be pained by letting down Southern Africa when they crashed at the group stages of the 2017 Nations Cup finals.

He believes it was a tournament where Zimbabwe could have done better had the Warriors found the character to win their opening Group B match against Algeria.

Callisto Pasuwa’s men were the only Southern African representatives in Gabon but suffered a meltdown as they became the first troops of Warriors to fail to win a match at the Afcon finals.

They picked just a point from their three games, to finish bottom of their group, after conceding the highest number of goals in the first phase of the tournament.

Traditional regional football heavyweights Zambia and South Africa, who have won the Nations Cup in the past, fell by the wayside in the battles for a place to qualify for the 2017 Afcon finals.

With the Warriors targeting, at least, a quarter-final place, their elimination at the group stages, without a victory to their credit, came at a huge price with Pasuwa’s contract as the team’s head coach being terminated in the brutality of the painful post-mortem that followed their Gabonese adventure.

The Warriors were just eight minutes from causing the first biggest upset of the 2017 Afcon finals, in their opening Group B showdown against Algeria, only for 2016 CAF African Footballer of the Year, Riyadh Mahrez, to grab a very late equaliser and force a share of the spoils at the Stade de Franceville.

The goal shattered the Warriors’ spirits, with the players heads notably dropping as they battled the demons inflicted by a lost opportunity to start their campaign with a bang, and they leaked half-a-dozen goals in their following two defeats at the hands of Senegal and Tunisia to crash out of the group stage, for the third straight time, at Africa’s biggest football festival.

President Mugabe feels it would possibly have been a different adventure for the Warriors in Gabon had they held on to their 2-1 lead, in that opening match against Algeria, and defeated the Desert Foxes with the confidence generated from that possible victory blowing winds in their sails in their Gabonese adventure.

In his traditional interview with ZBCtv to mark his 93rd birthday, President Mugabe said he felt the Warriors’ confidence dipped after their failure to collect maximum points against Algeria and they lost their way in their subsequent matches against Senegal and Tunisia.

The President, who said he didn’t support any of the local football sides, revealed he didn’t watch the two defeats suffered at the hands of the Lions of Teranga and the Carthage Eagles.

“Soccer? I thought you would ask me about the performance rather than which team I support,” the President said after being asked which was his favourite local team and also his views on the Warriors’ performance in Gabon.

“The loss (by the Warriors) surprised me after we had performed that well, reasonably well against Algeria but, also in that context I do not know why we couldn’t have managed to stick to the 2-1 score that was in favour of us, and we allowed Algeria to even score towards the end of the match.

“I think that is what brought in the loss of confidence, loss of spirit, hence the team became dispirited thereafter.

“The next matches where they got 0-0 (in terms of points earned), I never watched I was told about the results.

“The matches will be played again in the future. So, it’s not the end of everything but when you lose, in the context which you will have attracted the confidence of the whole of our Southern Africa, you have become the representative, really, of Southern Africa, then it must pain us.

“It must pain you because in a sense you have let down Southern Africa. But that’s to be accepted in sporting events, isn’t it? You win, you lose but, of course, you must not be losing all the time.”

President Mugabe said the country needed to develop its football but he questioned why Fifa said the Government should not intervene in the administrative affairs of the game when the sport’s leaders usually turned to the State with begging bowls to help them in their various programmes.

The Government injected $1 million into the Warriors’ Gabonese adventure with Pasuwa getting about $56 000, his coaching staff getting about $42 000 each while the players got about $28 000 each from the combined fund set aside for their 2017 Nations Cup campaign.

NetOne poured $250 000 into that campaign.

“We must develop our soccer well. I do not know what it is we must do,” President Mugabe said.

“On one hand, they say we must not interfere with the arrangements in our soccer teams, we must leave it alone but, on the other hand, they cry for help to the State, help us. So which is which?

“If we are to help them we must also expect good results, isn’t it? Kwete kungoti tibatsirei. Tikakubatsiraika tinenge tichiti tibatsireiwo nekuhwina.”

The President also spoke about Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, who has now risen to become the Cosafa boss, describing the Harare businessman’s phenomenal rise in the leadership circles of regional football as a promotion.

Chiyangwa has invited Fifa president Gianni Infantino for a two-day tour of this country.

Infantino, who will be accompanied by Fifa general secretary Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura – the first woman to become the second most powerful person in world football – is scheduled to arrive in Harare this evening.

“But I notice VaGushungo vakumusoro uko, vakabva kuno, VaChiyangwa, vakapromotwa,” President Mugabe said.

“He is up there. He is Southern Africa now, Cosafa.”

President Mugabe said he didn’t support any particular local football team, and was a fan of all the clubs, although his sons — Robert and Chatunga — were supporters of Zimbabwe champions Caps United.

“Ah, I don’t support, I don’t support any team in particular, definitely, but my boys support, I think it’s Caps, but I don’t support any,” said President Mugabe.

“I support all of them, when I watch, in the context of maybe Dynamos vs Caps, I say good luck to the winners and hard luck to the losers. ‘You will do well next time,’ to the losers.”

The two Harare giants meet in the pre-season ZNA Army Charities semi-final showdown at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday in a battle that is likely to set the tone for what promises to be a bruising battle for honours this year.

Infantino jets in for glitzy show

Chamu Chiwanza

Chamu Chiwanza

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE organising committee behind the historic visit of FIFA president Gianni Infantino have promised glitz and glamour as the world’s most powerful football leader makes a historic visit to Zimbabwe today.

The Swiss lawyer will celebrate ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa’s birthday and ascendancy to the COSAFA throne.

Infantino, who also marks one-year in office this weekend, will headline an array of football dignitaries and high-profile business people from not less than 54 African countries for Chiyangwa’s big bash.

Chairman of the organising committee, Chamu Chiwanza, confirmed that Infantino, who is the guest of honour at the party this evening, will arrive today from South Africa.

The birthday bash will also be attended by FIFA secretary general Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura apart from other distinguished delegates who should include 24 heads of football federations from the continent and businesspeople among them Mamelodi Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe.

President of the Madagascar Football Federation, Ahmad Ahmad, who has declared his candidature for the CAF presidency at next month’s elections, is also expected to be among the guests.

“Basically it’s an historic moment as far as Zimbabwean football is concerned, it’s an historic moment as far as Zimbabwean tourism is concerned and by and large historic as far as relationships with other countries are concerned,” Chiwanza told a media conference in Harare yesterday.

“Infantino is the guest of honour at Dr Chiyangwa’s 58th birthday bash which will be held tomorrow (today) at HICC. What is more historic about the visit is that it’s not just the president of FIFA who is coming.

“I am also pleased to announce that the second most powerful person in world football, who is the secretary-general of FIFA, that is Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura, is also coming.

“There is a very small but quite powerful delegation coming from FIFA and I must hasten to say that the main purpose of their visit is to attend the birthday party and be part of the celebrations to mark Dr Chiyangwa’s winning of the COSAFA presidency. “There are a series of events that we have lined up for the FIFA president as he will be in the country for a very limited time. Chief among those things is obviously football development and rehabilitation, things that ZIFA will be taking care of.

“So, it is going to be very historic. Remember this is the first time Infantino is visiting the country ever since he was elected president.

“We are also expecting some high-profile delegates coming from 54 countries and from those countries, 24 heads of football federations have confirmed and I’m told six of them are actually arriving today (yesterday).

“So we are expecting quite a number of football federations from the continent who are going to be part of the celebrations.” Chiyangwa’s bash has been viewed with suspicion by authorities at CAF.

Infantino is also expected to meet President Mugabe.

He is also expected to visit some development projects like the ZIFA Village and the site for the proposed new ZIFA headquarters.

The FIFA boss will meet Uganda President Yoweri Museveni tomorrow evening before a half-day engagement with other football stakeholders on Saturday.

“As a committee, we can assure you that there is not going to be any meeting to discuss crucial football matters with the FIFA president. Not anything to our knowledge. Celebrations are the main reason,” said Chiwanza.

“Yes, one would ask why have so many federation presidents but people must not forget the person that we are celebrating. This is Philip Chiyangwa, the man who brought Michael Jackson at the highest peak of his career in 1988 to Zimbabwe.

“Philip is known for doing extra-ordinary things and do not be fooled that there is going to be a meeting or anything of that sort.“He wants to do what other people dare him that he will not be able to do. It’s historic, there is no other president of any federation who has had a party of this magnitude where the FIFA president himself will come. Ladies and gentleman this is Philip Chiyangwa for you.

“That is what he wants and he has told me that next year’s celebrations, who knows, maybe Donald Trump will be part of the delegation.”

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