THE three principal figures in domestic football leadership — Philip Chiyangwa, Omega Sibanda and Philemon Machana — have come out with guns blazing saying they are ready for any challengers in next month’s poll.
The country’s football family meets in Harare next month to elect a leadership that will be in charge for the next four years.
It’s a culmination of a process that started with polls for the lower structures of the game and the focus now shifts to the election of the people who will be the faces of the game’s leadership.
Chiyangwa, Sibanda and Machana are part of the leaders who came into office after the leadership of Cuthbert Dube was overthrown by the councillors about a year into their fresh term.
Yesterday the trio issued a united challenge to their rivals saying they were ready for whatever boardroom showdown for the forthcoming polls could bring on.
“The time has come for us to tell the country that we stand on firm ground, in as far as our quest to be handed a full mandate to lead ZIFA is concerned, because we believe we still have a lot to offer in terms of our vision and where we want to take this game,” said Chiyangwa.
“Those who believe have the capacity and energy to take me on are welcome and let’s see each other in the ring where — like a man who spent a long time also in boxing — I can promise them uppercuts, jabs and some vicious knock-out punches.
“I have never been afraid of challenges, I have always thrived against challenges in my life and I am a believer that the tougher the victory the sweeter it is and let’s get into this race, if you think you are made of solid stuff, then come and take me on.
“Football politics is now part of the reason I live and when I first made my decision to go for the ZIFA presidency there were a lot of people who mocked me saying I was going to be humiliated but I won convincingly.
“When I said I was going for the COSAFA presidency the same people said it can never be done because all they could see where some imaginary barriers but look at what happened.
“Then I said we need to have a change at CAF because there was need for fresh blood in the leadership but the same people said the people who were in charge had been there for more than 25 years and it’s impossible but the rest is history.”
Chiyangwa said his team had done wonders since they came on board.
“When the next World Cup qualifiers start, the Warriors will play and that is a huge statement when you consider that our boys were never given a chance in the last campaign simply because some people slept on duty,” he said.
“When we came in we were only given a month to pay about three times, in US dollar value terms, to what our predecessors had failed to do in more than five years and we saved the World Cup campaign.”
Sibanda said he was also ready for any fight.
“Elections are about winning and losing and after that, just like the players after a game, we have to shake hands,” he said.
“I want to continue serving my game, I believe I have a lot of unfinished business, and l am confident that the ZIFA councillors are people of integrity and will look for the best person for the job.
“We have done a lot as a team since we took over and we deserve to be handed a full mandate for people to really see what we can achieve and we are confident we will get that.”
Machana said he was happy that the financial challenges which have been haunting the game for some time now were being addressed and he said wanted to finish what he started when he took over.
“There are some measures that I had to put in place, some which were very painful to the organisation, in order to stabilise things because the whole institution was crumbling,” he said.
“We have been delivering audited accounts which are the hallmark of professionalism in a public organisation like ours and we have arrested the wanton spending that saw our debt balloon beyond anything one could imagine.
“We have put a financial model where our national teams now can fulfil their mandate without the chaos that used to accompany every time they came into camp and we have all seen the results, qualifying for the AFCON after a long time and now we are almost there again.
“But this is a process and I believe, if given more time, I can make a bigger difference in the way the finances at ZIFA have to be managed for the benefit of the game.”