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At 50, Herentals FC owner Innocent Benza has ‘no plans to quit playing’

Aged 50, Premier Soccer League (PSL) outfit, Herentals Football Club’s owner Innocent Benza has hinted that he has ‘no plans to retire from playing professional football’ anytime soon, saying the club’s visions and projects are “centred on him”.

Benza, who recently made history by becoming the country’s oldest PSL player to feature in a cup final when his side lost 1-0 to Bulawayo Chiefs in the Chibuku Super Cup tournament played on 2 December at Barbourfields Stadium seems to have no intention of leaving the stage now, instead, he is still raring to go.

He will most likely be part of the Students’ squad for the upcoming 2023 campaign.

This comes after he was asked whether he will be part of the squad for next season and the 50-year-old striker did not deny or agree.

Speaking to journalists during an interview at Motor Action Sports Club in Harare on Thursday as the club held its end of year awards he revealed:

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“As I have previously said, we (Herentals FC) are driven by a vision and our vision is centred on IB9 (Innocent Benza, jersey number 9).”

Benza, whose club consists of the Herentals Queens who were crowned champions of the just concluded Zimbabwe Women Soccer League as well as the Herentals U-20 side who play in the second-tier division and finished second in the Northern Region Division One League aims to add more teams in the leagues.

“We are trying to build a base, we have a Division Two team in Harare, so we want the same for Bulawayo and Mutare. In 2023 we are definitely going to have an additional two more professional teams in the leagues,” he added.

The ageing striker has been criticised by a section of football enthusiasts who believe he ‘must call it a day’ and hang up his boots.

However, the defiant Benza revealed he is not deterred, saying, “We (Herentals FC) are driven by a vision. We are not going to be stopped by any negativity, we are trailblazing we know where we are going.”

Benza received the Hero of the Team award while his son Tino who also turns out for Herentals and won the 2022 Chibuku Super Cup tournament top goal scorer gong and the club’s Player of the Season award.

Other winners include the former CAPS United striker John Zhuwawo who scooped the club’s top scorer award, Takudzwa Chikosi (Goalkeeper of the Year), and ex-Dynamos defender Godfrey ‘Marabha’ Mukambi together with William Kaphuma who were named the team’s most hardworking pair.

Awards were also given to players from the club’s other teams in Herentals Queens, Herentals U-20 side and the Herentals division two side.