By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Fc Platinum’s Total Caf Champions League match against Orlando Pirates which was held at Barbourfields Stadium broke the venue’s 30-year attendance record, owners of the facility have confirmed.
Barbourfields Stadium is owned by the Bulawayo City Council and according to official figures, 23 164 fans paid to watch the blockbuster encounter on January 12 which marked the beginning of a maiden Caf Champions League group stage journey for Pure Platinum Play.
The match ended in a non-scoring stalemate.
“The attendance at Barbourfields Stadium soared to 23, 164 which is a figure last recorded in the late 90s,” said Nesisa Mpofu, the Bulawayo City Council’s senior public relations officer.
There has always been scepticism on the official carrying capacity of Barbourfields Stadium, amid claims and fears of a well knit cartel involved in ticketing scam.
After the Orlando Pirates match, FC Platinum played host at the same venue to Guinea’s Horoya which attracted just slightly over 4 000 fans.
The Council spokesperson said the two matches, despite helping to market the City, also promoted sports tourism as well as benefiting some downstream industries.
“This is sports tourism in the making. Informal traders also benefitted through the sale of different products to the public as well as local hotels that hosted the teams together with their match officials.
We believe spectators also enjoyed watching top flight football,” said Mpofu.
The Zvishavane miners were deprived of the use of their home ground Mandava Stadium after it failed to meet expected minimum requirements for it to be homologated by the tournament owners, Caf.
However, the stadium has since been okayed meaning their last Caf Champions League match against Tunisian giants and holders, Esperance, will be held at Mandava Stadium in two weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, FC Platinum’s preparations for their next match against Orlando Pirates in South Africa on Friday next week are continuing in earnest with coach Norman Mapeza saying everything was going according to plan.
While the Zimbabwean champions are already out of running for a quarterfinal slot in the tournament, they are still eager to leave a mark in their campaign where they are not only yet to win but also to find the back of the net in the four games they have played so far.
“So far so good, I have no complaints,” said coach Mapeza on his charges’ preparations for the South African trip.
The Sea Robbers need an outright win to revive their chances of progressing to the quarterfinals after going down 0-2 to Esperance in their last match of the campaign. Chronicle.