FORMER Zambian president Rupiah Banda says Zambia and Zimbabwe could transform themselves into football powerhouses strong enough to qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals if the two countries work more closely in strengthening their ties in the game.
Banda, who was once part of his country’s football leadership before his elevation to lead Zambia, arrived in Harare yesterday as a special guest of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Prophet Walter Magaya.
This follows the football-mad prophet’s recent visit to Zambia where he met some of that country’s leadership.
Banda and his delegation are staying at Yadah Hotel Complex in Harare’s Waterfalls area, a multi-million-dollar luxurious estate that was built by Magaya and has been used as a training base for the Warriors and the Mighty Warriors in the past.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa, who has developed a close working relationship with Magaya in which the prophet has become the biggest sponsor of the Association’s activities — especially when it comes to bankrolling the national team’s — was part of the local delegation that met Banda yesterday. The former Zambian president was taken on a tour of the Yadah Hotel Complex by Magaya and his crew and was charmed that the prophet, who also owns a local Premiership club, had made such a substantial investment in his home country.
Banda said there was massive potential in Zambian and Zimbabwean football and the two countries should help each other to ensure they transform themselves into the powerhouses that their potential is crying out for.
While Zambia and Zimbabwe have played some friendly matches in the past, these have been few and far between and the two neighbourly countries could do more in helping each other out.
A proposed friendly match between the two nations last month, which would have helped the Zambians prepare for their 2018 CHAN adventure, fell through at the last minute. Banda said such initiatives were important because the target for the two countries should be to qualify for the FIFA World Cup one day as they both had the potential to grace the global showcase.
Although the Zambians have conquered Africa in the past, winning the 2012 AFCON tournament, they have never qualified for the World Cup finals despite coming close on a number of occasions.
Zimbabwe also came within 90 minutes of a maiden appearance at the global football showcase during the Dream Team era only for the Warriors to fall at the final hurdle when they lost to Cameroon in Yaoundé in 1993.
Magaya told The Herald earlier last year, in his first in-depth media interview after his team joined the domestic Premiership, that his mission in local football was to try and help Zimbabwe qualify for the World Cup finals. He said while he had considerable interest in seeing his Yadah Stars succeed, the overall success of his country, which could be measured by qualification for the World Cup finals, was a far bigger mission.
Yesterday Banda was singing from the same hymn book when he said both Zambia and Zimbabwe should target World Cup qualification as their ultimate goal in football with the former Zambian leader saying such glory was possible if the sister nations worked together for a common goal.
“I think Zambia and Zimbabwe can do more in helping each other when it comes to football so that we both can benefit and tap into our potential to qualify for the World Cup,” he said. “There is a lot that we can do together in football and we have great talent in our countries and we should try and help each other so that we develop that talent.” Banda told Chiyangwa that he watched from a distance as the Harare property mogul led the campaign that ushered in a new dispensation in the leadership of football in Africa.
Chiyangwa led from the front as the campaign manager of Malagasy football boss Ahmad in the campaign that eventually toppled long-serving CAF president lssa Hayatou from his post at elections in Ethiopia.
It was a sensational knock-out blow, which many in African football never believed would be delivered because of the way Hayatou had entrenched his power base in the game after almost three decades in charge of continental football.
“It’s good for us to interact with such a very powerful man, remember he was here during the inauguration of our President Mnangagwa and Zambia has always been a very sisterly nation to us even though we might be big rivals on the football field,” said Chiyangwa.
“He has the experience of having been a part of his country’s football leadership and follows the game very closely and we can learn a lot from him.
“The Zambians won the African Under-20 Cup and we are the COSAFA champions and there must be something that we are doing right and we were the only Southern African nation at the 2018 AFCON finals.
“We can exchange ideas and learn from each other to be even more powerful than what we are right now and we will always reach out to each other.”
Magaya said he was humbled by Banda’s visit.
“It’s a humbling experience to have such a very special guest and we can only learn from such great leaders for us to be better people tomorrow,” he said.
“I’m passionate about our football and l will always work towards ensuring that we become a better and more competitive nation in the game.
“I’m glad that our special guest also shares my vision of one day seeing our countries playing at the World Cup finals and we have to ensure that we get there.”
Magaya was set to host the Zambian team and the South African Legends at Yadah Hotel Complex last year ahead of those friendly matches against their Zimbabwean counterparts which did not eventually take place.
He hosted the Barcelona Legends and the Warriors Legends at the same complex last year.
Article Source: The Herald