By Ricky Zililo
Confusion is reigning supreme in the build-up to the international exhibition match featuring local former footballers and Barcelona Legends in Harare on Sunday.
Some former players, who have been selected to feature in the exhibition match by Zifa, have distanced themselves, claiming they were never approached.
Highlanders, who have been advertised as curtain raisers in a clash against Dynamos, also pleaded ignorance about the match.
Nhlanhla Dube, Highlanders’ chief executive officer, said he was shocked to see adverts indicating that they will play against Dynamos.
“I’m hearing it for the first time and I’m surprised that we will be playing Dynamos. All I can tell you is that I know nothing and maybe someone knows better,” said Dube, who heads Highlanders’ secretariat.
Most Highlanders executive members equally expressed their ignorance about the punted weekend game.
Highlanders gave their players time off after the 0-3 loss to Hwange and will only resume training this afternoon.
Our sister website Sportszone reported that Ephraim Chawanda, one of the ex-players named in the Zimbabwe Legends’ squad, has distanced himself from the match set for the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The former national team defender who captained Reinhard Fabisch’s Dream Time to the brink of World Cup qualification in 1993, used his Facebook timeline yesterday to distance himself from the match.
Chawanda, who was nicknamed “The rock of Gibraltar” for his reliability and steadiness in defence during his playing days, is now based in Botswana.
“My friends and family have been misled by the media that I will be in Zimbabwe for a certain game in Harare; it’s a lie.
“For those who put my name on such a list without consulting me, for lack of better words, please go to hell. I cannot be part of disorganisation or a circus that disrespects former footballers,” wrote Chawanda
The match is being organised by Zifa in collaboration with the Ministry of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture and is aimed at marketing Zimbabwe as a good tourist destination as well as to advance sports diplomacy.
Zifa announced a 33-man squad of former footballers, who were mixed with legends for the exhibition match.
“It is us (Zifa) who came up with the list. Tentatively we expect players to start arriving in Harare on Wednesday (yesterday),” said Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela.
Asked if Zifa is providing airfares for overseas-based former players such as the UK-based duo of Japhet M’parutsa and Muzondiwa Mugadza as well as United States-based Thulani “Biya” Ncube, Madinda Ndlovu, who coaches in Botswana’s topflight, and the bulk of the squad based in South Africa, Gwesela said: “That is still work in progress.”
Selection of the legends’ team has stirred debate following the omission of some former players such as Ronald “Gidiza” Sibanda and Luke Petros-Jukulile from the list.
It was later learnt through the team’s manager Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda that Ronald had erroneously been omitted from the list and is part of the legends.
The inclusion of the likes of Edward Sadomba, who achieved virtually nothing in Warriors colours, has also been met with grumblings within the football fraternity.
Midfielders that were named in the list without Ronald are Calisto Pasuwa, Lloyd Chitembwe, Johannes Ngodzo, Kennedy Nagoli, Moses Chunga, Esrom Nyandoro, Tinashe Nengomasha, Joel Lupahla and Desmond Maringwa.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza and United States-based Ncube, who captained the Young Warriors and senior national team in one year, are part of the defenders that were expected to report for camp in Harare yesterday.
One of the country’s greatest players Peter Ndlovu, Benjani Mwaruwari, the Mugeyi twins Wilfred and William, as well as Ian Gorowa and Zenzo Moyo were also named in the squad.
Sunday Chidzambwa was named coach and will be assisted by Rahman Gumbo and David Mandigora.
Walter Magaya of PHD Ministries was named chief liaison officer. Magaya has been Zifa’s benefactor; providing accommodation free of charge to the national teams.
Meanwhile, 20 Barcelona legends are expected to arrive in the country on Saturday.
They will be coached by Albert Ferrer, a former Barca and Chelsea right-back.
Some of the ex-stars that have confirmed that they will feature in the exhibition match are Eric Abidal, Rivaldo, Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert.
Davids and Kluivert were in the country earlier this year to market the game. Gianluca Zambrotta and Anderson Luís de Souza, better known as Deco, will also be available for the match.
Zim legends squad
Goalkeepers: Brenna Msiska, Muzondiwa Mugadza, Gift Muzadzi, Japhet Mparutsa
Defenders: Ephraim Chawanda, Engelbrecht Dinha, Charles Yohane, Dumisani Mpofu, Dazzy Kapenya, Bekhithemba Ndlovu, Innocent Chikoya, Harrington Shereni, Thulani Biya Ncube, Norman Mapeza, Kaitano Tembo
Midfielders: Calisto Pasuwa, Lloyd Chitembwe, Johannes Ngodzo, Kennedy Nagoli, Moses Chunga, Esrom Nyandoro, Tinashe Nengomasha, Joel Lupahla, Desmond Maringwa
Strikers: Edward Sadomba, Agent Sawu, Zenzo Moyo, Benjani Mwaruwari, Peter Ndlovu, Madinda Ndlovu, William Mugeyi, Wilfred Mugeyi, Ian Gorowa
Technical team: Sunday Chidzambwa (head coach), Rahman Gumbo (assistant coach), David Mandigora (assistant coach), Kilian Kadye (physiotherapist), Nicholas Munyonga (team doctor), Walter Magaya (chief liaison officer), Ernest Sibanda (team manager). The Chronicle