Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Government has started procuring bucket seats and electronic ticketing system for the National Sports and Barbourfields stadia in moves against time to ensure the Warriors and FC Platinum play their continental matches at home.
There has been concern that the two sides might be forced to play their home matches in foreign lands for failure of the country’s stadia to meet Fifa and Caf requirements.
However, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry last week told members of the Senate that the Warriors are likely to enjoy home advantage when they take on African powerhouse Algeria in a crucial Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in November.
Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum will also be in action in the same month when they begin their Champions League campaign.
Minister Coventry was enthusiastic about the amount of work done at the two facilities.
Responding to a question from Senator Chief Ngungumbane, who wanted to know the state of the country’s stadia and whether the Warriors would be able to play at home when they take on Algeria, Minister Coventry said: “Yes, Honourable Senator, our national stadia have been renovated, that is the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields Stadium. We are only left with two outstanding issues, that is the procurement of bucket seats and the electronic ticketing which is now being procured through a tendering process. This past weekend (last weekend), there was an inspection team that has been visiting the two stadia, the one in Bulawayo and the National Sports Stadium. They are the inspection team that writes the report on behalf of Zimbabwe that they then send to Caf.
“Once they have shared that document with me, we will attach the letters of two outstanding procurements, the bucket seats and the electronic ticketing which we will send to Caf for it to make the decisions. However, at the moment, it is looking very positive to have our national team playing, the grounds are looking very good in terms of all other aspects that Caf wanted upgraded, including the lighting, the changing rooms and medical room.”
While the installation of bucket seats is a requirement in terms of the standard, fans will be left short-changed as the two facilities’ carrying capacity will be drastically reduced, with Bulawayo City Council engineers indicating that Barbourfields Stadium’s capacity would be reduced by almost 50 percent to just above 12 000.
The electronic ticketing system will no longer allow more than the required number of fans entry into the stadium once the required number is reached, as it automatically closes all entry points.