Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Football Association is now waiting for communication from the Confederation of African Football regarding the reinspection of the country’s stadiums to host matches sanctioned by the continental governing body.
On Wednesday, Zifa said as directed by the Caf in its stadium inspection report sent to Harare at the beginning of April, their club licensing manager Xolisani Gwesela inspected both National Sports and Barbourfields stadia to assess progress on ongoing upgrades at the two facilities.
“Zifa sent the preliminary reports for both stadia to CAF, which also serve as an invitation for a follow up inspection to the first phase carried out in March 2019. Caf had set the period between 15 June and 15 July as the time for follow-up inspections but may have to delay due to immigration restrictions in many countries,” read part of a statement released by Zifa on Wednesday.
Indications are that while NSS can be refurbished to earn the right to host senior team games, Barbourfields has structural limits which cannot be circumvented. Nevertheless, the Emagumeni will still be renovated in the frame of hosting other international matches.
Even though electronic access controls and individual seats are yet to be installed at the NSS, according to Zifa, other areas (medical, media, dressing rooms, sanitary facilities, pitch condition) are now in line with minimum requirements.
Government through the Sports and Recreation Commission indicated that procurement of materials to address outstanding issues has been delayed by lock-down. SRC Director General, Prince Mupazviriho recently told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Youth, Sports, Arts and Culture that the ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation had approved flighting of the tender for bucket seats and electronic access controls.
In December last year, Caf imposed a ban on local stadiums from hosting international matches while provisionally allowing Barbourfields stadium to host Champions League matches and junior women’s competitions.
NSS has not hosted an international match since the 0-0 draw between the Warriors and Botswana played on 13 November 2019. Women’s World Cup matches played earlier in the year were all staged at Barbourfields stadium.