Warriors to play in empty stadium
ZIFA has dashed the hopes of thousands of fans after confirming the Warriors’ encounter against Algeria next month will be played behind closed doors.
The Warriors were handed a huge boost when the Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced that they would be able to use the National Sports Stadium (NSS) as their home ground when the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group H qualifiers resume next month.
Initially, the matches should have taken place last month but had to be postponed following the global outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
Back then, Zimbabwe was supposed to host the reigning African champions on foreign soil after Caf banned both the NSS and Barbourfields from hosting international competitions.
After Caf rescheduled the qualifiers, the Warriors will now travel to Algiers on November 12 to take on the Desert Foxes at the July 5 Stadium before the two teams clash again four days later at the NSS.
“Zifa advises all stakeholders that Caf has provisionally homologated the NSS to host senior men matches. “In granting the temporary approval, Caf indicated they are charmed by Zimbabwe’s efforts, but the continental football authority underscored that renovations must continue until the stadium is quickly
brought to required standard.
“Consequently, our Afcon qualifier against Algeria scheduled for November 16 will be played at the NSS. “Due to the heinous Covid-19 pandemic, match planning is being done based on playing the game in an empty stadium,” Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said in astatement yesterday.
Despite Covid-19’s prevalence throughout the world, a number of football federations and sporting disciplines are now allowing limited spectators to attend matches.
In France, initially 5 000 had been permitted but rising Covid-19 cases prompted a change to a maximum of 1 000.
Clubs including Monaco, Lille and Bordeaux now allow 1 000 spectators for their Ligue 1 games.
Before the start of the 2020-21 German Bundesliga season, the government approved teams to allow at least 20 percent of venues to be filled by fans.
Most Warriors fans were hoping that a similar arrangement would be made for the upcoming game against
the Algeria but indications from Zifa show the game will be behind closed doors. The only other way fans would be
able to follow the game will have to be on television but broadcast details have not been made available yet.