Zimbabwe waits for Caf green light


Nigel Matongorere

©️  ZIMBABWE’s fate when it comes to hosting international football matches now rests in the hands of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) after the First Instance Body (Fib) completed their local inspections.

All of the country’s major venues like the National Sports Stadium (NSS), Barbourfields, Rufaro and Mandava were all condemned by Caf inspectors and were banned from hosting international matches.

Before the coronavirus (Covid-19) forced the cancellation of international sport, the Warriors were scheduled to host their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group H qualifier against Algeria in South Africa.

The country was given a second chance to correct the situation when Caf sent in their inspectors to assess the NSS and Barbourfields ahead of the commencement of the 2022 Qatar World Cup group stage qualifiers.

The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) was given a deadline of June 15 which is today to ensure they complete all the requirements needed at the two venues.

On top of that, Fib which is formerly the Grounds Committee should inspect the two stadia and send an initial report to Cairo.

It is the contents of this report which Caf will use to determine whether they need to resend inspectors again or completely ban Zimbabwe from hosting international matches.

Fib chairperson Paraishe Mabhena said they have completed their inspections and will send their report today and from there it will be a waiting game.

“I’m actually coming from Bulawayo where we have gone to inspect Barbourfields. We inspected the National Sports Stadium a week ago and we will be submitting our observations to Caf tomorrow (today) to see when they can send their inspectors.

“We will only know through Caf when the inspectors will come, obviously subject to travel restrictions,” Mabhena told the Daily News.

Mabhena said he was not in a position to disclose any of the observations they have done during the inspections before the government and Caf are in receipt of their dossier. “Unfortunately, I cannot speak of anything until we give feedback to the government which is funding the whole thing,” he said.

While Mabhena was unwilling to divulge any information regarding their inspections, there are indications that the Caf inspectors recommended the demolition of Barbourfields for it to meet the required standards.

The venue which was commissioned in 1957 has outdated infrastructure which no longer matches the advancement football has made over the years.

After the Caf ban on all local stadia was communicated at the start of the year, the government stepped in to help Zifa through the Sports ministry and the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).

Initially, the NSS was under the purview of the Local Government ministry and this saw the venue being leased for church, wedding, musical and other social functions at the expense of football.

As a result the pitch suffered considerable damage over the years and a number of Warriors players complained that the playing surface was causing injuries.

However, the pitch is now looking immaculate after the stadium authorities enlisted the help of groundsmen from Royal Harare Golf Club.

In the dressing rooms, modern seats, cabinets, air condition, more toilet seats, flat screen television sets and proper lighting have now been installed.

Medical rooms for both the players and the public have also now been furnished with the necessary equipment and furniture.

A big and well-equipped press conference room filled with new desks, chairs and flat screens televisions is now complete as well.

The only delay was the installation of buckets seats with the government intending to import them from China.

However, the nationwide lockdowns currently in place in most countries due to Covid-19 have inhibited the government from taking delivery of bucket seats.



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