ZIMBABWE’s football legends Peter Ndlovu and Benjani Mwaruwari are among a host of former African football icons who are expected to grace two all-star charity matches organised by the Kanu Heart Foundation and Nelson Mandela Foundation in Nigeria and South Africa starting later this month.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Warriors duo was yesterday named among a star-studded list of 46 African soccer legends, who have confirmed their participation in the matches, which will be played over two legs.
The first charity match will take place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on April 29 before the legends play another charity match at a venue yet to be confirmed in South Africa on May 27 to show support for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The two matches were initially scheduled to take place in Nigeria and South Africa on April 8 and May 6 respectively before they were pushed forward.
Mohammed Mustapha, the general secretary of African Football Legends Organisation, who are organising the matches, said apart from raising funds for the two organisations, they also wanted to reunite all the iconic legends on the continent.
“Everything is set for the event. It’s important for people to support it for two reasons: one big reason is to support the Nelson Mandela Foundation, to support this legacy,” Mustapha was quoted in the Nigerian media.
“Apart from raising funds for the two foundations, we also wanted to reunite these football legends,” he said.
The Kanu Heart Foundation was founded in 2000 by two-time African Player of the Year winner, Nigerian football hero Nwankwo Kanu, to help save underprivileged African children who are battling heart disease.
The charity matches are expected to reunite Mwaruwari and Ndlovu — the last Zimbabwean internationals to feature in the English Premier League, where the former played alongside Kanu during his successful spell at Portsmouth between 2011 and 2012.
Mwaruwari, who went on to play for Manchester City, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League before hanging his boots three years ago after a two-year stint in the South African Premiership, has been off the radar since withdrawing from the race for the Zifa presidency in November 2015.
On the other hand, Ndlovu, a former Coventry City, Birmingham, Sheffield United and Huddersfield striker, was early this year honoured by top football magazine FourFourTwo, who named him among the top 100 foreign players to grace the English Premier League.
Ndlovu, who retired after stints in South Africa and locally, is currently the team manager at reigning CAF Champions League champions Mamelodi Sundowns, a role he took up in 2013 after stepping down as national team assistant coach.
According to reports from Nigeria and Ghana, the former Zimbabwe captains are among the big galaxy of stars set to feature in the charity match being organised by the Kanu Heart Foundation and Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The star-studded list is headlined by the only African to win the Fifa Footballer of the Year, George Weah from Liberia, three-time African Footballer of the Year Abedi Pele, among other notable names like Ghanaian Samuel Kuffour, Patrick Mboma of Cameroon, Anthony Baffoe (Ghana) and Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia).
Also expected are Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), El-Hadji Diouf (Senegal), Frédéric Kanouté (Mali) and South Africans Benni McCarthy, Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish and Phil Masinga.
Kanu will be joined by a host of his Nigerian counterparts such as Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Celestine Babayaro, Garba Lawal, Victor Ikpeba, Taribo West, Uche Okechukwu, Peter Rufai, Emmanuel Amuneke and Samson Siasia.