HARARE - You have to give it up to Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa after he engineered the downfall of former Confederation of African Football (Caf) Issa Hayatou yesterday.
Chiyangwa was the campaign manager for Madagascar Football Association president Ahmad Ahmad, who was voted as the new Caf president yesterday after beating Hayatou by 34 to 20 votes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Hayatou had been Caf president since 1988 and was seeking an eighth term in office if he had won yesterday’s elections.
However, with only a year into his reign in mainstream football administration, Chiyangwa has been at the forefront of one of the biggest shocks on the continent.
African football will now probably move in a different direction under Ahmad, leaving behind the dark days which prevailed under Hayatou’s reign.
Under the Cameroonian, North and West Africa dominated African football while the rest of the continent lagged behind.
In his campaign manifesto, Ahmad promised that he will make Caf accessible to all the countries on the continent and they will equally benefit financially during his reign.
It is our sincere hope that the Malagasy will honour the promises he made in the run-up to yesterday’s election.
Although he is still basking in the glory of his candidate’s success, Chiyangwa must now use his privileged position in world football to bring development to Zimbabwean soccer.
Already, the Harare businessman is close to Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who was in Harare for Chiyangwa’s 58th birthday celebrations last month.
With Ahmad and Infantino in his corner, Chiyangwa now has very powerful allies in world football.
Zifa is currently weighed down by a $7 million debt which at one time threatened to destroy the game in the country.
All the Zimbabwe national soccer teams from the Under-17 up to the senior national teams both in the men’s and women’s categories do not have coaches.
Sponsorship for local football is very low with clubs struggling to pay players and staff salaries in this harsh economic climate.
Our stadia are in a deplorable state, which will make it impossible for Zimbabwe to host even the Under-17 Afcon tournament.
Chiyangwa must now start concentrating his energies on correcting all these wrongs in local football.
We can now safely say Zimbabwe is now in good books with Caf and Fifa after these recent developments.
Just like how he has shaken African football, Chiyangwa must now do the same with the local game.