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Govt, ZIFA upbeat about National Sports Stadium

By Grace Chingoma

ZIFA believe the Government have done considerable work at the National Sports Stadium and are confident CAF will once again approve the arena to host high-profile international matches.

DUTY CALLS. . . ZIFA spokesperson and club licensing manager, Xolisani Gwesela (left) and First Instance Board member, Sharif Mussa, go through the list of CAF requirements, in the revamped changing rooms of the National Sports Stadium, after their tour yesterday
DUTY CALLS. . . ZIFA spokesperson and club licensing manager, Xolisani Gwesela (left) and First Instance Board member, Sharif Mussa, go through the list of CAF requirements, in the revamped changing rooms of the National Sports Stadium, after their tour yesterday

The Warriors are scheduled to host neighbours, and rivals, Zambia in an AFCON qualifier next month.

The giant stadium was barred from hosting high-profile international matches, last year, after falling short of the minimum requirements.

CAF then issued a temporary reprieve, for the use of the stadium, late last year, after some parts had been renovated.

Zimbabwe hosted African champions Algeria at the same venue in November.

Yesterday, officials from the ZIFA First Instance Body and the Sports Commission, toured the stadium.

CAF requested all the member associations to provide a detailed report, on the state of their proposed home venues, by the end of business today.

The reports, which will be accompanied by pictures and video footage, will be examined to see if the venues were suitable to host the qualifying matches.

But, without pre-empting the association report sent to Cairo, ZIFA spokesperson and club licensing manager, Xolisani Gwesela, said they are happy with the progress.

Gwesela, ZIFA, technical director Wilson Mutekede, FIB members Sharif Mussa and Francis Mabika, Sports Commission acting director-general, Garikai Sebastien, and other officials from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, toured the stadium.

They looked at the pitch, changing rooms as well as the media tribune.

FIB chairperson, Piraiishe Mabhena, passed away on New Year’s Day.

“We have received correspondence from CAF, in relation to upcoming fixtures being the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Match Day Six, in which we are going to host Zambia.

“CAF have written to all national associations, and have emphasised quality stadiums, so they have asked us, in my capacity as the club licensing manager, to inspect the stadium to determine if it meets the CAF standards, in terms of the template they have provided to us.

“So, that is basically what we have been doing here together with the members of the FIB, Mr Mussa, Mr Francis Mabika, TD and members of the SRC.

“We have inspected all areas, in line with the CAF template, and we are going to submit the report to CAF, who will make then a decision whether the stadium meets requirement to host the upcoming match or not.

“There have been considerable improvement at the stadium. You can see the medical areas, pitch, doping control rooms, there has been major improvement but there are still some outstanding issues, which the stadium owners are working on.

“Hopefully, it will meet fully the requirements set out by CAF,’’ said Gwesela.

Garikai said they were confident the work, which continued throughout the first lockdown last year, should help the giant stadium host forthcoming matches.

“An inspection of the ZNSS by CAF, through the FIB, was done, where an assessment of the expected set standards of ZNSS, was being conducted in respect of the set CAF requirements, as instructed through a letter received yesterday, the 3rd of February.

“As SRC, representing MOYSAR (Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation), the owners of the facility, we are confident that the ZNSS will pass the inspection as maintenance and refurbishment works continued even during this lockdown period.

“Procurement of outstanding structural issues are at an advanced stage and this has been communicated accordingly,” said Garikai.

ZIFA risk attracting fines from CAF if they fail to meet the deadlines to submit their stadium inspection reports.

“Kindly note that failure to comply with this obligation, by the set deadline, may result in a fine, in accordance with the competition regulations, while further disciplinary sanctions may incur on your federation,’’ CAF acting-secretary-general, Abdelmounaim Bah, said in his correspondence.

“In case the proposed stadium does not fulfil the minimum requirement for this phase of the competition, your national team may be required to play their matches in an approved stadium in another country. “We appreciate your continuous support in helping us raise the level of our African football with improved facilities as we continue to gain exposure to a global audience.” The Herald

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