BY FORTUNE MBELE
THE Confederation of African Football (Caf) has spared Zimbabwe the embarrassment of having to host their home games outside the country after the substandard National Sports Stadium was temporarily homologated to host the Warriors Group G Fifa World Cup qualifier against South Africa early next month.
The Warriors first play Bafana Bafana between June 5 and 8 before an away fixture to Ethiopia between June 11 and 14 and the latest developments will thrill coach Zdravco Logarusiç.
Caf had warned that Zimbabwe might fail to host its home games since its stadium had failed to meet minimum standards.
After the Bafana Bafana clash, the Warriors’ next home game is against Ghana in September.
Yesterday, Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela confirmed that Zifa had once again been given another reprieve to host senior national men’s team home matches after a similar arrangement was reached for the last Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on March 29.
But while Caf have allowed the Warriors to enjoy their home comfort, the continental body warned that such privilege may be withdrawn if minimum standards were not met.
“Zifa is pleased to inform all football stakeholders that the National Sports Stadium has been provisionally homologated to host World Cup qualifiers slated for June 2021. Caf made the decision based on visual and textual inspection reports from an inspection conducted by the association on April 23,” Gwesela said.
“Caf encouraged Zimbabwe to complete all outstanding work in renovating the stadium so that it meets standards required to host senior men teams’ matches.
“Some of the glaring areas noted include the spectator seating areas and sanitary facilities, obsolete access controls, uneven pitch, absence of signage in and around the stadium, untiled dressing rooms and office floors, sub-standard showers and toilets in the dressing rooms.”
Zifa will be penalised if there happens to be any hiccups during the upcoming matches at the National Sports Stadium.
“Caf warned that any organisational or technical breaches observed during the upcoming matches will attract financial sanctions. Zifa was fined
US$2 000 for the absence of bucket seats and general uncleanliness of the stadium in our Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Zambia on March 29,” Gwesela said.
“Zifa acknowledges the government’s efforts in upgrading the stadium, but reiterates that more still needs to be done for Zimbabwe to have at least one standard stadium to host top level matches.”
South Africa has 13 stadiums which are approved by Caf.
Government has continued to drag its feet in attending to outstanding issues at the stadium that includes installation of bucket seats.
The government says progress on the refurbishment of the stadium has been stalled by the COVID-19 lockdowns, but tender processes for the installation of bucket seats have been done.
- Follow Fortune on Twitter @FortuneMbele