Brazilian football legend, Rivaldo, who starred for Spanish football giants Barcelona, was expected to arrive in the country late last night as preparations for the match between the Barca Legends and the Warriors gather momentum.
Rivaldo's real name is Vitor Borba Ferrera. The Barca Legends are expected to play the senior national soccer team in the first week of November. Rivaldo was expected to be accompanied by Manuel Jose Auset Domper and they are part of the promotion of the high-profile match which will see such legendary footballers like Ronaldinho, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Carlos Puyol coming to Harare to feature in the match.
And Rivaldo, one of the best players of his generation, who won the Spanish La Liga in 1998 and 1999 and also played alongside Ronaldo and Ronaldinho in that all-conquering Brazil team which won the 2002 World Cup, is expected to meet with some Government officials today. According to a press release from the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, Rivaldo will spend a day here before he flies back tonight.
"The Ministry of Sport and Recreation invited Mr Rivaldo in the country, who is coming in as part of the promotion of a match to be played by Zimbabwe Warriors and Barcelona Legends. The purpose of the visit is to pay courtesy calls to the Government of Zimbabwe in preparation for the proposed match. The Ministry of Sport and Recreation will, therefore, have a lot of interaction with him on October 3, before he flies back by the end of the day. The proposed match is in line with the Ministry of Sport and Recreation policy guidelines on the promotion of sport diplomacy and sport tourism for the benefit of the nation. The match will be played during the FIFA free-week in the first week of November 2017," read the statement.
The parent ministry, ZIFA and some private players have been working on the funding structure that will bring the Barca Legends to this country. ZIFA are responsible for the technical side of the match and deciding which team will play on the day. Barcelona Legends representative Rayco Garcia has been here for some time working on the modalities of the game with his local representative Tich Mawone since the Government gave a nod in August for the match to go ahead.
The team's skipper Kluivert and former midfield star Edgar Davids, in the company of Garcia, met President Mugabe as well as Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in August.
Hlongwane has since said the staging of the high-profile match is within the Ministry's policy guideline which has two critical points -- sport diplomacy, to reach out to communities through the world, through sport, as well as sports tourism and a strong way of promoting cultural visits to Zimbabwe.