|Karuru, Khama cleared|
|Saturday, 05 May 2012 01:02|
FRANCE-based Zimbabwe international midfielder Ovidy Karuru headlines the first batch of players to be cleared off match-fixing allegations as Zifa yesterday began implementing steps to bring the Asiagate chapter to finality.
Karuru and Ajax Cape Town hotshot Khama Billiat are the players with the biggest profiles on the 34-man list that was released at the end of an extraordinary Zifa board meeting in the capital last night.
Zifa had suspended Karuru and Billiat from national team activities together with more than 90 other players as the association ruled that all the individuals fingered in the Asiagate report had to be first cleared by an Independent Ethics Committee that was commissioned by the Cuthbert Dube-led board.
The board yesterday met for an extraordinary indaba at which the preliminary Asiagate report released by IEC chairman, retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, was tabled.
Ebrahim had earlier recommended that 33 players and former Warriors coach — Brazilian Valinhos — be exonerated from the match-fixing allegations with the judge indicating that his committee had come up with that decision after sifting through some of the evidence they have gathered to date.
The IEC chairman also indicated during a press conference last month that his committee had also considered the earlier Asiagate report by Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede.
But there is no doubting that that the focus has always been on the players with many in the football family keen to know of the fate of those who featured for the Warriors and Young Warriors during their controversial tours to Asia between 2007 and 2009.
But a glance at the list released by Ebrahim through Zifa shows that Karuru, who plies his trade with French Ligue 2 outfit US Boulogne, and Billiat, who has been a star at South African Premiership side Ajax Cape Town, are the players with the biggest profiles among those that have been acquitted.
Karuru, who was a revelation during the Warriors’ failed 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, is now set to mark his return to the fold when the senior team get their 2014 World Cup bid underway with a home tie against Guinea on June 4.
The former Masvingo United and Gunners man leads a cast that also includes gritty Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande and big Moroka Swallows utility player Oscar Machapa.
Billiat, also a key figure in the Warriors World Cup and Nations Cup aspirations, featured for the Under-20 side when then coach Methembe Ndlovu’s team travelled to Asia.
The former Aces Youth Academy star last year underlined his significance to the Warriors cause with some fine performances and together with the likes of his close friend and former teammate Knowledge Musona, Katsande and Vusa Nyoni are the rock on which a new generation of the senior side can be built.
Crucially, the decision to start clearing some of the players will come as a major selection boost for interim Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo ahead of the start of a busy period next month for the senior team in which they will also travel to Mozambique for a World Cup assignment and then host Burundi on June 24 in a Nations Cup first round second leg tie.
With the Zifa board meeting having spilled into the night, the association indicated that a full statement on the indaba would only be issued today.
Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze could only confirm that the board had ratified without any amendments the list that had been forwarded to them by Ebrahim during the indaba at which a member of the committee — Harare lawyer Lewis Uriri — took the meeting through the progress they had made to date in finalising their Asiagate probe.
The list also features some of the players who have been members of the Warriors’ squads on such assignments like the African Nations Championships and the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup.
These include forward Chris Samakweri, who plays for former African Champions TP Mazembe of the DRC, the CAPS United trio of Nyasha Mukumbi, Charles Chiutsa and Asani Nhongo and goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupanedengu.
Gilbert Mushangazhike — who has since retired — also has his name on the list of those cleared, as did a host of former Under-20 players such as the Dynamos trio of Augustine Mbara, Milton Makopa and Tawanda Muparati, Proud Zireni, Brian Katsaruware, Nicholas Arufandika, Thabani Goredema and Edwin Nkomo.
List of exonerated players:
N. Arufandika, K. Banda, L. Chibwi, K. Chirwa, T. Goredema, W. Katsande, K. Billiat, B. Katsaruware, R. Mabeza, O. Machapa, T. Masuku, H. Mavundi, A. Mbara, M. Makopa, N. Mukumbi, M. Mupanedengu, T. Muparati, N. Ncube, M. Ncube, E. Nkomo, A. Nhongo, C. Samakweri, M. Vengesai, P. Zireni, H. Zvirekwi, A. Mafulisi, O. Karuru, Valinhos (former Warriors coach) B. Tuwaya, E. Chikwaikwai, G. Mushangazhike, C. Chiutsa, R. Sengu, M. Matenda.