The appointment of Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa as the vice-chairperson of the influential CAF Afcon Games Committee has brought with it different opinions, with others arguing that the flashy Harare businessman is on a journey for personal glory instead of fostering Zimbabwe’s football interests.
insidesport with MICHAEL KARIATI
This is the second highest position any Zimbabwean has ever held in African and world football since the achievements of Leo Mugabe, who was a CAF Executive Committee member between 1998 and 2002.
It can be argued that Zimbabwe did not benefit anything from Mugabe’s sitting on the Caf executive. In fact, most observers believe Mugabe’s involvement in African football politics is what resulted in Zimbabwe losing its hard-earned right to host the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
Although history has its own uses, it is unfair to judge Chiyangwa on the basis of what happened in the past. What is now important is to take advantage and use Chiyangwa’s position of influence to the benefit of Zimbabwean football.
Chiyangwa’s top position in CAF means Zimbabwe is now a centre of focus in world football, and what happens in domestic football will also reflect on him as the country’s football leader.
Should the Warriors refuse to train over bonuses or the Mighty Warriors be paid $5 for winning a game and should the Zimbabwe Under-20 side withdraw from Pan African football over the none-availability of funds — all that will reflect badly on the Zifa boss, and he does not want that to happen as he aims even higher.
Although he does not want to admit it, Chiyangwa’s goal is to be in the Fifa corridors of power, and he knows that success for the Warriors, the Mighty Warriors and the Young Warriors will be the key to his Fifa dream.
“Zimbabwe was taken out of every football corner as a country with prospects. We need to reinstate the fact that we are a nation which has something to offer to world football. That is my goal,” pledged Chiyangwa.
So after reaching one of the top positions in Africa, Chiyangwa will surely do everything to make sure that the Zimbabwean situation does not bring him back where he came from, but instead take him higher.
So his elevation, although it might look personal, might be of great benefit to Zimbabwean football. What is important now is to find ways and means to take advantage of the situation.
A lot of challenges face the Zimbabwean game. There is the issue of junior and women’s football which have been neglected for years.
There is also five-a-side soccer which, after reaching dizzy heights in 1995, has sunk into oblivion.
There is also the Zifa Village which needs touch ups to make it suitable to accommodate national teams when in camp for international assignments.
All these need Fifa’s financial assistance and now that Chiyangwa is high up there, it is easier for him to negotiate for funding and revive the good old days when women’s and junior football were contested for in all the four parts of the country.
Chiyangwa should know that he is the CAF Afcon Games Committee vice-president because he is the Zifa president. What he needs to do now is to use that position to make Zimbabwean football great.
Since he came into office, there has been calm at Zifa. There has also been an improvement in the handling of the Warriors, and there have also been fewer people knocking on Zifa’s door demanding payment for services rendered.
However, one thing is still lacking. There has not been any real movement in terms of junior and women’s football development. That is where Chiyangwa needs to use his connections within the CAF and Fifa hierarchy to the benefit of Zimbabwe.
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