28 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Benjani Joins Chippa

FORMER Warriors skipper Benjani "Undertaker" Mwaruwari sprung a surprise yesterday when he signed for lowly South African Premiership side Chippa United but the veteran forward immediately declared his move as a "home coming act".

Benjani has spent the last decade plying his trade in the European leagues taking his career to Switzerland, France and England.

But at struggling Chipa United, he will join forces with fellow Zimbabwean Wilfred "Silver Fox" Mugeyi, who is coaching the club.

Benjani signed to play for the for the league newboys for the remainder of the season with an option for another year.

He marks a return to the South African league after a brief career with Jomo Cosmos at the turn of the millenium before moving to Switzerland side Grasshoper Zurich in 2001 on loan.

The following year, Benjani then moved into the French league and joined AJ Auxerre where he became the leading goal scorer in Ligue 1.

He then broke into the English top flight in 2006, after he signed for Portsmouth for a then record 4.1 million british pounds and went on to play for Manchester City, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers before returning to Pompey for a brief stint in the 2011/2012 season.

Yesterday he told The Herald from his South Africa that his move to Chippa felt like a home coming act.

Benjani also indicated that he was relishing the opportunity of helping the Absa Premiership basement club to glide away from the relegation zone.

Chippa have managed just 16 points from 19 games and Mugeyi is now their fifth coach this season.

"It is always nice to come back here and this is my second home. l am ready to help them fight relegation. Everyone in life loves challenges and for me it is a challenge and l love that and l will do my best. My presence should inspire the boys and they should believe in themselves and know that everything is possible in life," Benjani said.

The former Lulu Rovers and Air Zimbabwe Jets striker said he should not have fitness problems as he had been training with such clubs like Jomo Cosmos and recently Ajax Cape Town.

"I have been keeping fit and have trained with Ajax Cape Town, SuperSport before and Jomo Cosmos which is like my home whenever l am in Johannesburg," said Mwaruwari.

Before signing for Chippa, Benjani had indicated a willingnes to wind up his career in South Africa where his family is based.

At one point, he had trained with SuperSport and was on the verge of signing them but the deal didn"t materialise.

Yesterday, he agreed terms with the Cape Town side.

According to reports from South Africa the former Air Zim Jets striker arrived in Cape Town last week and has been training with Ajax Cape Town but has inked a deal with the newcomers.

Chippa's PRO, Lukanyo Mzinzi, confirmed that Benjani had been signed to boost the team's attacking options for the remainder of the season.

"He has signed for the remainder of the season with an option for another year. We have been in discussions with him for almost the whole day yesterday (Tuesday)," said Mzinzi.

The reports from South Africa says the club"s boss Siviwe "Chippa" Mpengesi was elated when he talked about his side's new recruit.

"We certainly hope that he will work for us and also rub off his wealth of experience on the young strikers that we have. I am serious about building the team and when we struggled to get Moussa Maazou and Benjani became available, we had to take the opportunity," said Mpengesi.

The club is hoping for a change of fortunes in the second half of the season.

Chippa have recently signed players such as Rudiger Gilbert, Mbulelo Mabizela, Masibusane Zongo and Stanton Lewis as they seek to boost their team.

They have also acquired new coach Mugeyi who has since won one of the two matches he has been in charge of.

Benjani was in 2001 crowned the PSL Player of the Season and the PSL Player of the Year while still at Cosmos.

The former Zimbabwe captain wound up his Warriors career in 2010 and last year had a testimonial match which saw some of his friends such as Nkwanko Kanu whom he played with at Pompey, Lomama Lua Lua and El Hadj Diouf coming to feature in teh game at the National Sports Stadium.

The match, which celebrated a career spanning over a decade, was also meant to raise funds for his Benjani Mwaruwari Foundation, which is for the less priviledged children.

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