Minnows Matabeleland have revealed big news today, with the announcement that Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar will be helping the amateur side at the Paddy Power CONIFA World Football Cup this May.
“The Jungle Man” played 32 times for Zimbabwe and once for predecessor nation Rhodesia, on top of 627 games for Liverpool, where he became a household name for his flamboyant and eccentric goalkeeping.
Since retiring he has served as a Goalkeeper coach at Ottawa Fury, indicating that he will bring experience and expertise ahead of the tournament.
Matabeleland manager Justin Walley, pictured with Grobbelaar, announced the news on Twitter, stating that: “We are absolutely delighted to announce that world football legend Bruce Grobbelaar is joining the Matabeleland Football Team as our goalkeeper coach and brand ambassador for the CONIFA World Football Cup.”
With the tournament kicking off on May 31st, there is little time before the first games – but the footballers of Matabeleland still need help in getting to London, where the finals are hosted.
A fundraising campaign has been launched to help fund flights over from Zimbabwe, sort out British visas and provide other essential equipment to ensure that all the hard work done by everyone involved is not undone.
You can donate by following this link: https://www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/send-matabeleland-to-the-conifa-worldcup
The players are representing the Matabeleland region in West and South-West Zimbabwe, which encompasses three provinces: Matabeleland North, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South.
Matabeleland’s first group match is against European side Padania at Sutton United’s Gander Green Lane, who are one of the pre-tournament favourites. You can buy tickets for that match up here.
They also face Tuvalu and Székely Land in Group C.
There are another two African sides competing in the Paddy Power CONIFA World Football Cup – hosts Barawa, representing Somalians, based in England, and Kabylia, representing the region in Northern Algeria. You can see all of the fixtures here.