By Eddie Chikamhi
REIGNING Goalkeeper of the Year Ariel Sibanda might not don the Highlanders jersey next year as interest for Zimbabwean football players continues to increase outside the borders ahead of the 2020 calendar year.
It has emerged that Sibanda, who has been the inspiration behind Highlanders in the last few seasons, is on the radar of Mozambican giants Ferroviario de Maputo.
The Mozambican side are also interested in Black Rhinos forward Francisco Zekumbawire, while Soccer Star of the Year first finalists Ralph Kawondera and Ian Nekati are also wanted in the region.
Zambian side Buildcon, who are also interested in signing Soccer Star of the Year Joel Ngodzo, have been monitoring Nekati while Kawondera, who had a memorable season, with Triangle has attracted the interests of ambitious Tanzanian outfit Azam and St Georges of Ethiopia.
Sources said negotiations are set to start after the New Year holiday.
Efforts to get a comment from intermediary George Deda, who represents most of these clubs in Zimbabwe, were fruitless as he has been hospitalised for the past two weeks.
Sibanda, who has won the Castle Lager Premiership Goalkeeper of the Year accolade in the last two seasons, has been with Highlanders for the past decade and could be interested in winding up his career elsewhere.
He kept 15 clean sheets for Highlanders in the just-ended 2019 season and was the natural choice for the best goalkeeper of the year.
Ferroviario, who have won 18 Mozambican league titles, wants experience as they look to fight back to the top in their league.
The side last won the title in 2015. They finished third last year and second in 2018.
Sibanda, who turns 31 this month, however, still has a year remaining on his contract with Highlanders.
Ferroviario have been home to another Zimbabwean goalkeeper Willard Manyatera for a long time.
Two other Soccer Star of the Year finalists Kawondera and Nekati confirmed receiving offers from the region.
Nekati, who is still in his rural home in Mhondoro for the holidays, said he is yet to make a decision on his future following the expiry of his contract with ZPC Kariba this week.
The 30-year-old made his debut late with the Warriors when he featured in the right back position during the CHAN, AFCON and World Cup qualifiers and acquitted himself well.
His former club FC Platinum are also believed to mooting to sign him back.
“Yes, I have received some offers from various clubs, but I haven’t decided on my next step yet. Right now I am still on holiday and I will probably start looking at that after the New Year holiday.
“But I would need to look at all the offers on the table and then decide on what is best for my career. Given a choice, I want local,” said Nekati.
Soccer Star of the Year first runner-up Kawondera has already received a tantalising offer from domestic champions FC Platinum. But Zambian moneybags Buildcon are also on his trail along with Azam, St George’s and some unnamed South African Division One clubs.
Kawondera’s contract with Triangle expired yesterday.
“I can confirm the offers have been coming, but I will not rush myself into entering any deal without looking at what it will bring into my career.
“I think the next few weeks will be busy for me,” said Kawondera.
Meanwhile, Dynamos yesterday signed another unknown quantity Lenox Mutsetse in their rebuilding exercise.
They have so far announced the return of defender Partson Jaure and the signing of Nkhosi Mhlanga and unheralded 19-year-old ex-Prince Edward pupil Tanaka Chidhobha. The Herald