Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
WHEN ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa told the world that 34 was a dangerous number in African football, which could topple the continent’s ruling elite, not many took him seriously.
But, in Addis Ababa yesterday, Chiyangwa’s words came true when 34 nations voted to oust long-serving CAF president Issa Hayatou from his seat in a new era for African football.
And, yesterday, the local football family welcomed the changes.
Former ZIFA vice-president and veteran administrator Ndumiso Gumede said it is a welcome change.
“I was lucky to be secretary-general of ZIFA way back in 1988 when Hayatou came around on a familiarisation tour after winning the CAF presidency.
“In the past 29 years, I have seen him grow in stature leading CAF with an iron fist regrettably relying heavily on the divisions between Francophone and Anglophone countries.
“But the galvanised COSAFA contingency has at long last led a crusade to dislodge him. Don’t forget two other attempts were from the region countries and they failed.
“It is a welcome change and, hopefully, Ahmad will find time to hear the grievances of all the regions and in particular the Anglophone countries,” said Gumede.
The former Highlanders chief executive, however, warned against high expectations.
“I was the CEO of ZIFA when that thing (the right to host the 2000 AFCON finals) was taken from us. I remember work which was being carried out at Masvingo and Sakubva stadiums stopped hence forth.
“To host such a tournament we need four stadiums in four different cities. Rules are rules unless they are changed.
“Please get me correct, I am not trying to be controversial here but we just don’t have the facilities. We may get the women’s Africa Cup of Nations but again that requires money,” said Gumede.
Former ZIFA Northern Region Division One chairman Francis Zimunya was also in celebratory mood.
“We have been waiting for this for too long. Issa Hayatou’s administration has been detrimental to football development in the Southern Region.
“Remember what they did this other year, depriving us of hosting AFCON at the 11th hour simply because Leo Mugabe had crossed his path.
“He was sort of a dictator.”
CAPS United also hailed the changes.
“The president, board, management, coach and non-coaching staff of CAPS United FC joins the global football family in congratulating Mr Ahmad Ahmad’s campaign manager and ZIFA president Dr Philip Chiyangwa for successfully running the campaign which saw Mr Ahmad Ahmad clinching the CAF presidency,” the club’s marketing chief Hannah Wright said.
“Makepekepe family wishes you well in your future endeavours.”
On social media, the subject was also trending with football supporters expressing their admiration for Ahmad campaign’s manager for boldly challenging CAF executive.
Collen Mutangamira wrote on Faceboook, “don’t you ever under-estimate Boss PC, he is a game changer. Change is always refreshing and let’s brace ourselves for a bright football future for COSAFA because one of our own is now in charge,” he wrote.
While Ronald Chindungwe was more illustrative.
“Captain Fiasco, Bla Fidza, King Of Selfies takes the ball in his own half, beats his marker with a dummy. He finds support from 14 COSAFA players, he gets back the ball in the centre circle and pushes it side ways to CECAFA who shields it from the opponent.
“Blah Fidza picks up the ball once again just outside the centre circle, he sells another dummy to his markers completely fooling them and he threads a perfect through ball to an unmarked Ahmad Ahmad.
“Ooh, what a beauty from Blah Fidza, even the greats like Pele, Maradona, Socrates, George Shaya, Joel “Jubilee” Shambo, Jay Jay Okocha would turn green with envy at such sublime and shrewd skill.
“This will definitely go down in history as one of the greatest matches in sporting history, in the same league as Ali vs Frazier match of 1975,” said Mutangamira.
Stephen Nyamusanduka described it as “a good move because I was sick and tired of Issa Hayatou who preferred and favoured those French-speaking nations in the north, west and central Africa at the expense of Southern African nations . . waenda uyo Hayatou waenda bhora mugedhi Phidza,” he wrote.
Another fan, Holder Mangumbi, “certainly Phidza is a genius he did his calculations very well, no one believed him but today look at what has happened. Phidza kumberi amana.”