Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA partner Wicknell Chivayo is becoming a trendsetter in the support of domestic football and reviving the fortunes of the national association.
In the week that he delivered a top-of-the-range vehicle to be used by Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa, and pledged to do the same for Mighty Warriors gaffer Shadreck Mlauzi, Chivayo, a Harare businessman, yesterday lived up to his promise and bought a car for the women’s soccer team mentor.
The 33-year-old Harare businessman, whose patriotism has been manifesting through his unwavering support for national football, revealed yesterday that he had paid $44 000 for the Toyota Hilux D4D double cab truck to be used by Mlauzi.
Chivayo said he was equally keen to see the Mighty Warriors succeed as he was upbeat about at the Warriors potential to reach the 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon.
“I bought it (the car) this morning. It is brand new. It is slightly different from the one we bought for Callisto Pasuwa but it is still a good car which the Mighty Warriors coach will use.
“I will keep on supporting the national teams and women’s football to ensure there is also gender equality,’’ Chivayo said.
The ZIFA benefactor, however, said he was not amused by complaints raised by Mlauzi on Wednesday in which the Mighty Warriors coach expressed disappointment at the late start of preparations.
While acknowledging that the Mighty Warriors preparations had taken long to kick-start, Chivayo felt the women’s coach ought to have been a little bit patient and believed in ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa and his assurances that funds had now been secured for their camp to start.
“I was a bit disappointed that the coach was complaining bitterly even when two businessmen had said funds were being put in place for their training camp to start and that a car was also being bought for him.
“I have said I am going to look after them but I am worried that there is an element of doubt on the part of the women’s coach. I am a patriotic Zimbabwean and I live up to my promises.
“I also took into consideration that it can be a bit of hassle to coach women’s football and I speeded up the procurement of the vehicle.
“I want them to succeed and like I have said before, my late uncle Vice President John Nkomo was their patron and he always wanted them to succeed and I am just doing my bit to help,’’ Chivayo said.
ZIFA spokesman Xolisani Gwesela said the association’s secretariat was now working on finalising the Mighty Warriors revised training camp programme that will also take into account the fact that they will need to prepare for both the Olympic Games in August and the African Women Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania early next month.
The Mighty Warriors will travel to Tanzania for the first leg on March 4-6 and Mlauzi is worried that with the women’s league inactive at the moment, his charges could struggle for match fitness for their clash against the East Africans.
Since deciding to go into to bed with ZIFA, Chivayo has helped breathe life into the Warriors and now the Mighty Warriors brands and setting the tone for corporate and individual sponsors to renew their confidence in doing business with the local soccer mother body.
Meanwhile, after being overlooked for various major continental assignments, local referees have won back the confidence of the Confederation of African Football with seven officials being appointed to handle Champions League and Confederation Cup matches this weekend.
Unlike in the past where such referees like Felix Tangawarima, Brighton Mudzamiri, Frank Valdemarca, the late Felix Sanyika and Wilfred Mukuna were a regular feature on the international stage, the current crop of match officials have been struggling to make their mark at CAF.
But with a refreshing wave sweeping across the Zimbabwean game following the ushering of a new board that was elected into office on December 5 last year, referees have become the latest facet of the national game to benefit from the changing fortunes.
The ZIFA referees committee chaired by board member Edzai Kasinauyo yesterday announced that seven of their members had been appointed by CAF to take charge of the inter-club assignments that are starting this weekend.
CAF have named Harare referee Norman Matemera to handle the match between Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland and APR FC of Rwanda in Swaziland.
In that assignment in Mbabane Materemera will be assisted by Salani Ncube and Edgar Rumeck while Nomore Masundire will be the reserve referee.
Another set of match officials led by Philani Ncube will officiate in the match between Zesco of Zambia and Gal Galghazalawau of South Sudan with Brighton Nyika and Luckson Mhara being his first and second assistants.
Zesco will be at home for that encounter.
Kasinauyo has applauded the appointments of the local referees by CAF to officiate in two of the Champions League matches this coming weekend.
“This achievement shows that as a country we are going somewhere, we can improve on our level of refereeing but having seven referees is quite a feat,” Kasinauyo told the association’s website.
“This is an improvement on our standards as we didn’t have a referee at CHAN tournament in Rwanda, so seven referees receiving continental recognition is honourable,” said Kasinauyo.
Kasinauyo also highlighted that although the appointment is a rare opportunity, Zimbabwean referees can improve their standards and become even better.
Match No 29 — Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland) v APR FC (Rwanda) CL
Referee: Norman Matemera
Assistant Ref (1): Salani Ncube
Assistant Ref (2): Edgar Rumeck
Reserve Ref: Nomore Musundire
Match No 13: Zesco United FC (Zambia) vs GAL GHAZALAWAU (South Sudan) CL
Referee: Pilan Ncube
Assistant Ref (1): Brighton Nyika
Assistant Ref (2): Luckson Mhara