By Grace Chingoma
Former Warriors skipper, Benjani Mwaruwari, has thrown his weight behind Alois Bunjira to be the next ZIFA president.
The ex-Manchester City and Portsmouth forward is currently working on his coaching badges and sports management courses in England.
He believes it was a blessing in disguise when he was barred from fighting for the ZIFA presidency, a few years ago, on a technicality, as this has enabled him to boost his football knowledge.
Speaking to South African broadcaster, Robert Marawa, on his daily radio show, Benjani said the future, for him, and Zimbabwe football, was exciting.
He believes he will have another go at the ZIFA presidency, in the future but, for now, he was backing Bunjira to be the next boss of domestic football.
“I think in future, yes, because when I tried, there was a loophole, so, sometimes chances come early but, unfortunately, age was not on my side,’’ he said.
“They said I was too young, the constitution said no under 40s should lead the association.
“People are scared that footballers will come and do great and they tighten it up and, that time, the FIFA president won it at 39 years.
“I think it was a blessing, as well, I am doing sports management, sometimes you need to be ready.
“I am doing my coaching badges. I am halfway through my UEFA A, we are just waiting for the practicals.
“I am attached to Portsmouth at the moment, hopefully, by September everything would be running and we will just wrap it up.’’
He revealed he recently spoke to Bunjira and gave him his blessings.
“Alois Bunjira is running for presidency, I think we need to support him, let’s hope he is ready,’’ said Benjani.
“I spoke to him, like two weeks ago, and I said I will be there for you, we will support you. He asked ‘are you going to run?’ I told him I am still preparing for my badges.
“All the footballers, if they see you being there, they will support you and let’s hope you will change football in Zimbabwe.’’ Benjani’s son is now at Portsmouth Academy.
“My son is turning 15 in November and, apparently, he is playing with Portsmouth Academy,’’ he said.
“I don’t want to push him, he is a good player but I don’t want to push him, I don’t want him to know that.
“For the past four, five years, I could hear people talking about him, even Bruce Grobbelar called the club and said I want this boy to come to Liverpool.
“I said no, I just want him to enjoy his football, you know when you are young, you need to enjoy it, you don’t have to be pressured.’’
Benjani said his wife has been supportive of their child.
“The mother has been supportive, she has been there for him since he was six when he joined Portsmouth, driving him to training, unlike us in Africa where they punish you for going and playing football,’’ he said.
“Here in Europe, you have to take the kids to training, to the games, they give you a programme, they give you everything and I am glad the mother is doing that.
“Even if he doesn’t make it to the top we support him.”
The former Jomo Cosmos player revealed his deep relationship with Jomo Sono, when he opened the show with a birthday message for the South African legend, who turned 65 yesterday.
“To be quite honest I didn’t have a clue about him taking a lot of players to Europe,’’ he said.
“I was just excited that I will come to South Africa and play for Jomo Cosmos as he mentioned to me.
“When I was at Josmos, I discovered all these things he did for the players.
“I went AWOL when we were playing for the national team in Zimbabwe and he said where are you, I want you to go to Newcastle for trials.
“I was nowhere to be found, he said you missed a chance to go to Newcastle now you have to go to Bournemouth, where I am at the moment.
“He made some arrangements and I came to Bournemouth. I went there at the wrong time.
“While I was in Bournemouth, he arranged for me to go to Turkey but I didn’t like it,
“I flew to Turkey from Norway, I don’t know what’s happened there. From there, I went to Switzerland.
“Within a space of one month, I had four trials, then, eventually, I made it in Zurich. “You know, in Zurich, it was nice, the city was beautiful and I loved it and I said Bra Jay, you know what, I will sign here and he said I am coming tomorrow.
“He flew over then we signed a deal. When he wants things to happen he can put an effort.’’
Benjani said he still remained desperate to return to play in South Africa to such an extent he even tried to deceive Sono’s Swiss friend who had organised a trial stint for him with French side, AJ Auxerre. The Herald