By Robson Sharuko
Former Zimbabwe captain, Benjani Mwaruwari, is scheduled to arrive in Harare today on a mission to address a number of issues related to his spectacular fallout with the Zifa leadership.
Benjani told The Herald yesterday that his image has been badly dented in recent weeks and wants to use his visit home to clear a number of issues that have been raised by the association.
The Zifa board met in Harare on Saturday and gave Benjani up to Friday this week to pay them US$74 000 and provide a reconciliation statement of his testimonial match held on May 26 at the National Sports Stadium.
Benjani has also been summoned to appear before the Zifa Independent Ethics Committee, investigating the Asiagate scandal, and explain a US$1 000 transfer he made to bail out the Warriors on their tour to Vietnam.
The former Portsmouth and Manchester City forward, who is hoping to ink a new deal before the start of the mainstream football season later this month, said he was coming home to address the issues.
“A number of issues have been raised in recent weeks in which my name has been dragged into the mud with a lot of allegations being made against me,” said Benjani.
“I have been quiet for some time but I have realised that these things will not go away because there is a spirited campaign to damage my name as much as possible.
“I am now coming home to address those issues and will be arriving on Tuesday and, hopefully, a lot of things will be clear after that. I have always been committed to helping my country and our football and I have spent a lot of money on helping the national teams and even the junior national teams dating back some 10 years ago.
“I have receipts to show what I have spent during that time and the players who were in France for the training camp ahead of the national team’s participation at the 2006 Afcon know that I spent quite a lot.
“I have never tried to gain anything from our football and all my efforts have been put into trying to help lift the game and it’s sad that it has come to this where I am now being accused of all sorts things.
“But I have a name to protect and it’s something that you earn after a number of years of toiling on the field and I won’t let that reputation be tarnished just like that and that.”
Benjani said for years, in the past decade, he bailed out the Warriors, on the occasions they were stranded, on foreign trips, including Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers.
“I never did that to gain any mileage and that is why I never came out in public to say that I had funded this and that because I felt I was just doing something for my country,” said Benjani.
“I never demanded to be repaid all that money because I didn’t give it as a debt to Zifa. But, in return, I am now getting all sorts of accusations simply because there was a disagreement between some Zifa officials and me on certain aspects of how to organise the testimonial.
“It’s like a nightmare because I never imagined it would one day come to all this stuff.”
Benjani also said he had paid all his dues to the relevant bodies after the testimonial.
“We paid the national team players what we had promised them and we paid what was wanted by the Sports Commission and anything else is, as far as I am concerned, outside what we were supposed to pay,” said Benjani. The Herald
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