Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
IN yet another major show of confidence in Zimbabwe’s significance to the international game, Confederation of African Football president Ahmad is set to visit this country before year end, becoming the first continental boss to tour this nation. Ahmad swept to power at CAF with a comprehensive win in a watershed election in Addis Ababa on March 16, with the Malagasy ending the 29-year reign of Issa Hayatou.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa played an instrumental role in the demise of Hayatou and in propping up Ahmad to power and the COSAFA president has always enjoyed cordial relations with the CAF boss. It emerged yesterday that Ahmad has now accepted an invitation to visit Zimbabwe before the end of the year in a tour which could also open a number of opportunities in the development of the domestic game.
Chiyangwa is in England where he had gone to attend the 2017 Best FIFA Football Awards and told The Herald from London yesterday that Ahmad would be touring Zimbabwe.
The ZIFA boss said CAF president’s visit also highlighted the exciting times that were ahead for the national game and also revealed that he had tied up some technical co-operation deals with the Tunisian and Qatar Football association’s leaders.
Chiyangwa also used his presence in London to mix and mingle with the global football stars such as Barcelona kingpin Lionel Messi and Brazilian Neymar amid revelations that the PSG forward had also complimented the ZIFA boss “for being elegantly dressed’’ on the night.
“I am excited to announce that CAF president Ahmad is to visit Zimbabwe. “I had lunch with him in London today together with the Tunisian FA president (Jary),’’ said Chiyangwa.
“Ahmad has always been willing to come to Zimbabwe since he became CAF president and he acknowledges the role that Zimbabwe and COSAFA played in his ascendency to power. I will now hear from the CAF president’s office on which dates are suitable for him to visit, but that should be before year end. I have also been invited to attend the Tunisian FA Congress on November 10 and they also want me to watch their game on November 11.
“During the lunch meeting with the Tunisian FA boss, we agreed on competitions and technical cooperation between Zimbabwe and Tunisia and in all this, I am trying to find the best possible deals that can assist our game from the juniors to the seniors and for both men and women.’’
The ZIFA boss said apart from also exploring potential opponents for the Warriors for friendly internationals, especially on FIFA dates, he was actively pursuing areas of administrative and technical cooperation that would help boost the capacity of his association. ZIFA have often been hamstrung by lack of resources and Chiyangwa, who considers himself a financial engineer for the game, has seized the initiative to lead the bid to take the sport to better levels.
The Harare property mogul is, however, under no illusions about the tough task he has to grapple with given the manner in which ZIFA’s reputation had taken a severe battering over the years. But after ascending to the helm of COSAFA executive and also moving in to secure closer cooperation between the three zones — CECAFA, North Zone and COSAFA — Chiyangwa has also ensured that the national game becomes the biggest beneficiary of his efforts.