#Pompey player Benjani Mwaruwari to become new ZIFA president

Former Pompey player Benjani Mwaruwari is bidding to sit on the board of the Zimbabwe FA.

The retired striker has put himself forward to contest one of four positions at Zifa, after successfully receiving financial backing.

Benjani had previously spoken of his desire to boost domestic football from the boardroom.

Now the ex-Blues fans’ favourite is in Harare attempting to gain enough support to successfully clinch a place at the top.

The 37-year-old netted 20 times in 94 appearances, having spent two spells at Fratton Park.

Signed by Harry Redknapp in January 2006, his tireless work-rate and friendly personality established him as a popular figure among Pompey fans.

He was also a key figure in helping the club avoid relegation in the 2005-06 Great Escape season.

A second spell under Steve Cotterill and then Michael Appleton was less successful, however, and he departed the club for good in May 2012.
Now retired, he sees himself occupying a boardroom seat in the future.

Speaking last week, Benjani said ‘I’m available to assist in improving local soccer and I believe I can do that in various positions.

‘I feel it’s time that football people take over the running of the game because time and again we have let other people in but the only reward the game has got is plummeting standards.

‘I’m ready to use my contacts all over the world to make a difference in the local game. We want football to be the winner at the end of the day so I believe the onus is on people who have roots in the game to challenge for these positions and run football in the interest of the players, coaches, administrators and, most of all, the fans.
‘We should not just let any person just come in when we know he has little interest in the game.’

Benjani’s biggest barrier, however, could be his age.

Legislation stipulates that for somebody to hold a Zifa top post they must be no younger than 40 years of age.

At the age of 37, it means the ex-Manchester City striker does not qualify, although he is hoping that ruling can be lifted.

There are those in Zimbabwe who believe Benjani could emerge as businessman Phillip Chiyangwa’s biggest competition if he succeeds.
Former Zimbabwe Soccer Star of the Year James Takavada has also expressed interest in taking up Zifa’s top post.

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