HERENTALS FC owner and player Innocent Benza has pleaded for authorities to push for Zimbabwe’s return to international football so that the women’s team who won the league title can also benefit from participating on the Africa safari.
The Herentals Queens ended Black Rhinos’ dominance on the local women football scene after they claimed their maiden Women's Super League title this year as they finished the season with 73 points in 26 matches after recording 24 wins, one draw and one defeat the entire season.
But the team will not be able to participate in Africa in light of Zimbabwe’s suspension from international football by the world football body Fifa.
Benza, who became the oldest player in the world to feature in a premier cup final when he featured against Bulawayo Chiefs in the Chibuku Super Cup, appealed on behalf of the teams at the club’s combined awards ceremony on Thursday.
“Leading the way our Queens managed to become champions. They managed to break the stranglehold of Black Rhinos and became the winners of the league,” Benza said during his speech basking in the success of the institution’s teams this year.
“We want to compete in Africa so I want to urge the powers-that-be to push so that Zimbabwe comes back so that our ladies benefit from becoming the league champions. We want them to be in Africa so that these celebrations are completed by their participation in Africa. And I want to assure you that they are not going to disappoint or make numbers,” he said.
“The year 2022 was relatively successful for us as a club the Division 2 side which comprises current students, about 11 in the squad finished second.
“We have a very talented Division One side that unfortunately finished second in the Northern Region league but I would also like to indicate that they are Independence Cup champions.
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“Our men’s premier league team finished eighth and were also Chibuku Super Cup finalists. We have our silver medals, we walk tall but in the next season we want more because we are capable. We are aiming for nothing less than a top-three finish. I am saying top three but those who know, know what I mean there is something that we are gunning for,” added the 50-year-old footballer.
The Herentals boss also bemoaned the way the women's team was snubbed by Zifa and were not presented with a trophy and medals.
And the team received their trophy from the club at the awards ceremony.
Benza also revealed the institution was to add two more Division Two teams, in Mutare and Bulawayo next season.
As expected the biggest winner at the Herentals awards ceremony was Soccer Star finalist Tino Benza, who won the Most Outstanding player as well as the Chibuku Cup top scorer award.
Football legend Moses Chunga and Stanford Mutizwa attended the awards ceremony as Benza revealed that it was the former who advised him to start a professional football club.
Benza also hinted that he will continue playing next season.