Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HOLDING their breath as they await the Premier Soccer League disciplinary committee’s verdict for alleged match-fixing, Herentals say their donation to the Young Mighty Warriors is not meant to curry favour from the football governing body.
The girls’ national Under-17 team received a major sponsorship package ahead of Sunday’s return leg of the World Cup qualifier against Botswana in Bulawayo after Herentals promised each player $500 in match appearance.
They also donated $15 000 to Zifa to cover the team’s camping expenses and availed scholarship packages at Herentals Group of Colleges for all the girls in camp.
Herentals representative Fainos Madhumbu said they are not trying to influence the judgment.
“We decided to extend the gesture to the Under-17 girls’ team which is in camp because we have been assisting national teams for a number of years. The 2020 schools’ calendar opened last week and we saw this as an opportunity to encourage the girls and give them moral support, especially with the scholarships.
“The scholarships are for all the girls who are in camp who are willing to enroll at our schools countrywide,” said Madhumbu.
“Remember, we’ve also assisted national teams with transport in the last eight years or so. Zifa also indicated that they need assistance with foodstuffs and we chipped in. About the said timing of the donation coming days before the PSL verdict on that case (match-fixing), our understanding is that those issues are being handled by PSL not Zifa. This donation is in partnership with Zifa,” he said.
Herentals appeared before the PSL disciplinary committee last month to answer charges of alleged match manipulation raised in their 3-0 win over Black Rhinos.
Herentals were charged alongside their official Oliver Chirenga, who allegedly masterminded the plan to manipulate the result using their financial muscle against Rhinos in their quest to survive relegation.
The allegations cost Rhinos team manager Gift Kamuriwo his job after the former midfielder confessed to taking US$600, which he was supposed to give to players he refused to name.
Kamuriwo is said to have presented US$300 to his club bosses, which he claimed was the remainder of the money given to him by Herentals.
Chirenga is alleged to have handed the money to Kamuriwo to execute the ill-fated plan before one of the targeted players blew the whistle to Rhinos coach Herbert Maruwa.
Rhinos conceded three goals in the opening 10 minutes, courtesy of a hat-trick by Herentals’ main striker Blessing Majarira.
Herentals also have to clear themselves from more match-fixing allegations levelled against them by Bulawayo Chiefs.
The Students beat Chiefs 1-0 in their final match of the 2019 season played at Luveve Stadium on December 14.
Chiefs reportedly notified the PSL about Herentals’ alleged underhand dealings, claiming that an official from the Students (name withheld) and another from a Bulawayo-based club (name withheld) first made overtures to “bribe” coach Thulani Sibanda before turning to the players after the Chiefs gaffer dismissed their approaches. — @Zililo