Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa’s influence in the governance of the game continues to be felt beyond the country’s borders with the South African football leadership becoming the latest high-profile figures to endorse the Harare property mogul. Chiyangwa was in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday as one of the special guests at the SAFA Constitutional Congress and the ZIFA boss received plaudits from high-profile figures such as Irvin Khoza and Kaizer Motaung.
The COSAFA president attended the SAFA Congress at the invitation of that Association’s president Danny Jordaan. Jordaan, who together with Chiyangwa are vice presidents of the CAF organising committee for the African Cup of Nations, chaired the SAFA Constitutional Congress. But it emerged from that Congress that powerful figures like Khoza and Motaung, who have played a big part in transforming the South African game into a mega bucks industry that is now able to attract massive sponsorship deals, believe that African football needs leaders like Chiyangwa in order to turn on a new leaf.
While some of his critics might have tried to downplay the impact that Chiyangwa had in helping end Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign at the Confederation of African Football, Khoza and Motaung confounded those cynics with their endorsement of the role the ZIFA boss played in bringing down the Cameroonian’s hegemony and changing the face of the continental game. Chiyangwa was also instrumental in helping ushering in CAF president Ahmad into power, just months after he had swept to the helm of the COSAFA executive in Sun City in December last year.
On Saturday, Chiyangwa sat in the auditorium at the Sandton Convention Centre and heard even former SAFA president Molife Oliphant heap praise on him and marvel at the manner he had helped changed the football landscape in Africa. Veteran administrator Oliphant served in various CAF committees for more than a decade. But leading the praises were Orlando Pirates boss Khoza who is also the South African Premier Soccer League chairman.
By virtue of his post in the PSL, Khoza is also a SAFA vice-president. Khoza described Chiyangwa as “the most powerful individual on the African continent” in terms of the game. According to reports from South Africa, Khoza told the delegates to the Congress that Chiyangwa had taken the African game after engineering the defeat of Cameroonian strongman Hayatou by Ahmad of Madagascar at the CAF election in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March.
Khoza said it was heartening to have a vibrant and charismatic individual like Chiyangwa leading such a campaign and he urged the ZIFA president to take his influence up to the world soccer governing body FIFA. Kaizer Chiefs president Motaung also praised Chiyangwa, as “a visionary and a brave individual”. Chiyangwa could have faced a CAF ban had Hayatou been re-elected. Oliphant also attributed the new CAF leadership’s ascendency to power to the shrewd machinations of Chiyangwa.
“He is too shrewd and calculating,” said Oliphant, also adding that the COSAFA president was a schemer of note. Chiyangwa, who in London, England, for last night’s Best FIFA Football Wards ceremony, yesterday took the plaudits in his stride. The ZIFA president also chairs a coalition of the three regions, — COSAFA, CECAFA and North Zone — that have forged closer co-operation in their development efforts.
“I am fronting so many people in football as you know I am president of the zonal regions and wherever I go I will also be representing the CAF president because it’s all football work.
“If you have a job to do, especially in football, you must really do it thoroughly and it is gratifying to be appreciated for your efforts,” Chiyangwa said. SAFA used the Constitutional Congress at the weekend to also make a number of amendments to their statutes including some administrative changes.
“All in all, this was one of the most productive meetings ever and I would like to thank the Deputy Minister of Sport, COSAFA president and all the delegates for making sure the weekend meeting was a runaway success,” said Jordaan Apart from Chiyangwa the other guests also included South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation Gert Oosthuizen who gave the opening remarks. The Congress approved that SAFA will now create new administrative posts of a chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
“On the competitions side, the Congress approved the creation of the new Women National League which will be made up of all nine Provincial sides, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bloemfontein Celtic and a USSA side. There are several other PSL teams that have shown interest in forming women teams and the Congress left the door open to increase the number of the National League teams from 12 to 16. A SAFA delegation headed by Dr Jordaan spent a week in Spain recently where part of the cooperation agreement between the Association and La Liga was to work together in establishing successful women structures. The Congress also passed a resolution for the creation of a Super Cup that will see a single club champion from winners of the PSL League, Telkom Knockout, MTN8 and Nedbank Cup champions playing for the Super title with the National First Division and ABC Motsepe champions,” read a statement from SAFA.