Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
FOOTBALL legends have hailed President Mnangagwa’s generous donation to the Warriors, challenging the players to repay the act by at least going past the group stages at the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The President donated a huge chunk of US$200 000 to the US$218 000 that was raised at a Warriors fundraising dinner in Harare on Wednesday. The President who was the guest of honour announced an additional $300 000.
Close to $3.5 million was raised, as the Warriors were set to have a drama-free run-up to the African Cup of Nations tournament after the fund-raising committee tasked to mobilise resources for their campaign got off to a good start when they managed to raise half the target.
Former Zimbabwe international striker Zenzo Moyo said: “The support shown by The Head of State and Government is just marvelous. This shows that President Mnangagwa recognises the contribution of football in sports industry and now the onus is on the boys to return favour by working hard to ensure Zimbabwe goes beyond the group stages for the first time. It will be a befitting thank you to President Mnangagwa and the people of Zimbabwe if the Warriors go past the group stages.
“My hope is that those entrusted with administration of these funds make sure that they go to the intended beneficiaries. Mismanagement of public funds is what scares potential partners in sport and I hope those given the mandate to distribute them do so to the best of their abilities.”
Former national team midfield genius Ronald Sibanda who represented Zimbabwe at two Afcon finals, Egypt (2004) and Tunisia (2006), shared Moyo’s sentiments.
“I just want to thank President Mnangagwa for giving football a major endorsement and I hope the corporate world will follow the gesture shown by the President and support football which is a unifier. We need more selfless people like President Mnangagwa not only in football, but in the sports industry so that our athletes are motivated and represent our country with pride when going for continentals and international competitions.
“Hopefully the money will be used wisely to motivate the boys. We have been to Afcon for four times and I believe that these boys will be hungrier to do well and make the President and Zimbabwe proud. Obviously it will be tough, but I believe we have a strong side that can give Zimbabweans something to smile about,” said Sibanda, popularly known as Gidiza.
The Warriors are already in Egypt where they are bracing for the tournament opener against the hosts scheduled for next Friday night. They are in Group A along with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Before their departure, the players had made a passionate plea to the Government and the private sector to help their cause by raising up to US$500 000 to cater for their accommodation, allowances, bonuses and other expenses in the run-up to and during the tournament.
The players said they would want to focus on playing football in their quest to go past the group stages for the first time without having to worry about money issues and camping glitches like what transpired in the previous campaigns.
At the fundraising dinner, Harare businessman, Kudakwashe Tagwirei, was the highest bidder for the President’s famous scarf which went for $250 000.
A soccer ball and a jersey signed by President Mnangagwa were also auctioned to the tune of US$10 000 to Mutare businessman, Tino Machakaire.
The second set was snapped up by Zimplats for US$3 500. The third was sold for US$1 500 to Beautie Makiya MaSibanda.
South Africa-based Zimbabwean business concern, Zororo-Phumulani, also pledged R15 000 for every goal scored by the Warriors during the Afcon campaign, among many other pledges made on the night. — @ZililoR