By Ngqwele Dube
With the nominations for the Zifa board elections set to close on Thursday, several potential candidates have emerged angling for the Zifa presidency.
While politician and flamboyant businessman, Philip Chiyangwa has pulled the rug under most of those who had been intending to challenge for the Zifa presidency with a whirlwind countrywide tour that saw some football fans declaring him the favourite there are several other football personalities who are emerging as rivals to Chiyangwa’s bid.
Prominent football personalities expected to challenge for the top post at the football governing body that has attracted a lot of interest include former Manchester City forward, Benjani Mwaruwari, Twine Phiri, Charles Mabika, Trevor Caresle Juul, James Takavada and Leslie Gwindi.
The Zifa board became vacant following the passing of a vote of no confidence last month by Zifa councillors on the Cuthbert Dube-led board that had Omega Sibanda as vice-president with Bernard Gwarada, John Phiri, Tavengwa Hara and Fungai Chihuri coming in as elected board members.
The former Warriors captain, Mwaruwari said he is interested in assisting to uplift the local game but did not come out in the open and state whether he would be running for the Zifa presidency.
“I am available to assist in improving local soccer and I believe I can do that in various positions. I feel it is time that football people take over the running of the game because time and again we have let other people in but the only reward the game has got is plummeting standards. I am ready to use my contacts all over the world to make a difference in the local game.
“We want football to be the winner at the end of the day so I believe the onus is on people who have roots in the game to challenge for these positions and run football in the interest of the players, coaches, administrators and most of all the fans.
“We should not just let any person come in when we know he has little interest in the game,” he said, adding he will be in the country this weekend.
Takavada, the 1984 Soccer Star of the Year winner, a former Warriors fullback who used to play for Ziscosteel at club level, confirmed he is in the race but declined to respond to other questions saying he will do so next week.
Football pundit, Mabika said he was still consulting and is likely to make a decision on his candidature tomorrow. Sources close to Juul and Gwindi, who both lost to Dube in the elections held last year, confirmed they would be launching their bids.
Former Zifa chairman, Juul last month told Sunday News Sport he was interested in returning to 53 Livingstone Avenue and is likely to file papers before or on Thursday.
Premier Soccer League chairman, Phiri is also said to be seriously weighing his options in running for Zifa’s top post.
Sibanda could be retaining his post without a challenge as the focus seems to be on the presidency with no other candidate yet declaring an interest to run for the vice-president’s post although some could be keeping their cards close to their chests and spring last minute challenges.
Elkanah Dube, who battled against Sibanda in last year’s elections, said he is not in the running adding he feels his former rival should retain the post.
The four regional chairpersons, Musa Mandaza (Southern), Willard Manyengavana (Northern), Felton Kamambo (Central) and Piraishe Mabhena (Eastern) are reportedly set to submit their bids for the four board positions.
Former board member, Tavengwa Hara, who was seen as close to Dube, said he would not be contesting this time around adding the overhaul in local football needs to start from the bottom.
“While I feel there is still a lot I can offer to football as a Zifa board member, I do not think making changes to the top when the foundation remains shaky will really make any difference. I would rather stay away for these coming two years then decide if I will come back in 2018. Councillors also need to be changed,” he said.
The next four days will be hectic with some making the final decision to throw their names into the hat or shy away from contesting in the elections.
Zifa chief executive officer, Jonathan Mashingaidze confirmed nominations will close on Thursday with the Electoral Committee sitting on Saturday to vet the candidates and announce those whose bids would have been accepted.
“Those who want to make appeals would be able to do so between 9 and 12 November with the final list of candidates expected to be out on the 15th,” he said. Sunday News