A week after he swept to power as ZIFA president, Philip Chiyangwa will get a feel of his first international duty when he attends the South African Football Association’s annual meeting as guest in Sandton today.
Chiyangwa had travelled South Africa on a brief sabbatical, but the ZIFA boss has found himself having to engage in football business as he seeks to strengthen relations between his association and SAFA.
The Harare property mogul has been invited by his SAFA counterpart, Danny Jordaan, to attend their association’s indaba where he will also be introduced to the SAFA congress.
SAFA director of communications Dominic Chimhavi yesterday emphasised the importance of co-operation between ZIFA and SAFA.
“It is critical for ZIFA and SAFA to work closely with each other and we feel honoured as SAFA for the new ZIFA president, Philip Chiyangwa, to grace our annual occasion,” Chimhavi told ZIFA website, www.zifa.org .
“It is essential that ZIFA and SAFA work jointly on a number of programmes to grow the game within the two countries, in the region and on the continent,” Chimhavi said.
Chiyangwa said he is looking forward to cementing ties with the neighbours and expressed gratitude for SAFA’s in- vitation.
“I feel extremely humbled by this invitation to attend such an important gathering.
“Zimbabwe and South Africa are historically brothers. It is important for the two football associations to establish areas of co-operation for the growth and development of the beautiful game.
“A strategic partnership between ZIFA and SAFA will inevitably play a crucial role in the development of football in the COSAFA region and beyond,” Chiyangwa said.
Jordaan had earlier this week sent a congratulatory message to Chiyangwa following his resounding victory in last week’s ZIFA executive committee elections.
The two COSAFA nations enjoy cordial relations and are set to sign a memorandum of understanding next year.
Chiyangwa is expected back in Johannesburg next week to attend the COSAFA annual meeting where association presidents from the 14 countries in the regional block will convene to set the path for the organisation for the coming 12 months.
Among the items to be discussed will be preparations for the upcoming Castle Lager COSAFA Cup 2016 that will be staged in Windhoek, Namibia, from May 15 to 29.
The regional body will also discuss the COSAFA’s Women’s Championship, Under-20 and Under-17 junior tournaments, as well as the COSAFA Beach Soccer Championships.
“A Press conference will be held afterwards. The AGM will also be attended by FIFA presidential candidates Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale, who made a request to COSAFA to be allowed to address members.
“This request was accepted so that COSAFA nations may make an informed decision during voting for the next FIFA president in Zurich on February 26, 2016,’’ reads statement from COSAFA.
The 14 members of COSAFA are Angola, Botswana, the Comoros Islands, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Chiyangwa has also indicated that he would use his period away from the country to try and mobilize financial and material resources for ZIFA.
ZIFA are under pressure to adequately prepare the Warriors for the African Nations Championships and also raise funds to pay Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet before January 4 and prevent Zimbabwe being booted out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.