Former Warriors and CAPS United goalkeeper Edmore “Zikeeper” Sibanda is likely to make an emotional comeback to local football after serving two and half years of a life ban over allegations of involvement in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.
By Brian Nkiwane
He was one of the 15 people banned from all football activities over the scandal.
Sibanda, who has shed some kilos and was believed to have hit a bad patch after the ban, is understood to have been given the green light to revive his football career by Zifa.
He has been spotted at Northern Region Division One side Gunners’ training sessions.
An official from the Northern Region confirmed the development, adding that he had actually met the player when he had come with his clearance letter for registration.
“Yes I can confirm that Edmore Sibanda has been cleared from the Asiagate scandal to revive his football career. As the leadership of the region, we were told about this development. I cannot divulge the contents of the letter as I don’t have it here, but if you call the Northern Region Administrator [Andrew] he will be in a position to give you the contents of the clearance letter. All I can tell you is the player has been cleared, he is waiting registration, ready to revive his career,” said the official.
Gunners players also confirmed Sibanda’s resurfacing.
This development was also confirmed by a Zifa board member who refused to be named as other board members are said to have been questioning how the player was cleared without their knowledge.
“It just came to us as news that Zifa had cleared Edmore Sibanda. Other board members have been raising questions as to why they were not told before the clearance letter was issued, only to hear this through the grape vine,” said the board member.
Sibanda was not readily available to comment on the development yesterday, while Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze and his communications manager Xolisani Gwesela maintained the stance that Sibanda had not been cleared.
“Why would Zifa clear Sibanda only while there are other players that have been going through a similar situation that Sibanda is in? There has to be an explanation,” Mashingaidze said.
Gwesela had this to say: “There should be an official communication if such a big thing in football happens. We have heard stories that he [Edmore] has been training with Gunners but we are yet to see him or [have] anyone talk to us about him.
“There has to be communication, like what happened to Norman Mapeza and Methembe Ndlovu. The Zifa board or Zifa secretariat has no power to clear anyone,” Gwesela said.
He added that it was the prerogative of the disciplinary committee to clear people from the Asiagate scandal.
“As I speak, people that have been looking at this issue, Musekiwa Mbanje and Raphael Manganga are, in Bulawayo trying to finalise issues concerning the Asiagate scandal. I can assure you this will be a closed chapter in the near future,” Gwesela said.
Other players who were slapped with life bans include former Dynamos centre back Guthrie Zhokinyi, Danisa Phiri, Thomas Sweswe and Method Mwanjali. Others that were banned appealed but, like Zhokinyi and Sibanda, could not raise the required $6 000 appeal fees.
Mwanjali and Sweswe have been playing in the South African league, while the other three have been going through hard times here at home.