BY FORTUNE MBELE
ZIFA’S First Instance Body (FIB) will this week embark on a preliminary inspection of Barbourfields Stadium to check on developments that have been done at the facility by Bulawayo City Council (BCC).
BCC are the owners of Barbourfields and the FIB will be returning to Bulawayo next month for another inspection ahead of Confederation of African Football (Caf) inspections as Zimbabwe still hopes to host the Africa Cup of Nations and Fifa World Cup qualifiers when football resumes after the Covid-19 pandemic-induced break.
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela yesterday confirmed that members of the FIB would be in Bulawayo this week.
“We will be in Bulawayo next week for a local inspection of Barbourfields. Basically we are checking on what has been happening during the lockdown period on a preliminary scale in preparation for another inspection that will happen early June (next month),” Gwesela said.
He appealed to the local authority and other stakeholders to ensure facilities meet Caf standards.
“Obviously it is our appeal to the Bulawayo City Council to ensure the stadiums are brought to the required levels to ensure they meet Caf standards. It is our fervent hope that BCC and other stakeholders will scale up their efforts to ensure that the stadia are brought to required levels. That is basically what we will be checking,” Gwesela said.
The National Sports Stadium and BF were for the second time condemned by Caf inspectors who jetted into the country in March amid some developments that were being done on the facilities at the behest of the government.
Recently the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry toured the National Sports Stadium and expressed satisfaction with refurbishments done to the dressing rooms, pitch and the media centre.
However, hopes that Zimbabwe would play home matches in the country still hang by a thread after Coventry recently conceded that bucket seats and electronic turnstiles would not be in place before an impending CAF inspection slated for June because of coronavirus-related travel and import challenges.
Zimbabwe has been told to bring its football stadia in line with set standards, which include bucket seats and electronic turnstiles, or forget about hosting international football matches.
Once work on the recommended improvements is complete, Zifa will invite Caf to conduct an inspection between June 15 and July 15 to determine whether or not the country will play the senior men’s competitions at home.