Zimbabwe banned from hosting international matches

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Tadious Manyepo
Harare - It keeps getting worse for Zimbabwean football as it hit a new low early this week after the country was banned from using any of its stadiums for international matches by the Confederation of African Football.

This is the first time in the history of the country to witness such a catastrophe of dire proportions  since it attained independence four decades ago.
The Warriors will have to quickly pick an alternative venue in any of their Southern African neighbours when they host Algeria in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier late next month.
Zimbabwe meet the African champions in back-to-back ties in what could be a decisive stretch in their bid to nail a berth at the biannual tournament scheduled for Cameroon early next year.
The Warriors are second in this qualifying group with four points to their name, two behind these feared North Africans in a group which also has Southern African neighbours Botswana and Zambia.
But Zimbabwe won't have the luxury of enjoying home advantage when they host Algeria with all their three stadiums deemed unfit to stage international games.
The 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium in Harare, 40 000-capacity Barbourfields in Bulawayo and Zvishavane's Mandava which can carry 15 000 spectators were all banished by CAF from hosting international games as they failed to meet minimum requirements.

Yet Barbourfields had been provisionally given the green light to stage international matches by CAF late last year pending the addressing of other issues at the stadium including lighting systems. But nothing seemed to have been addressed as of this week and CAF were left with no option but to condemn the venue.

The National Sports Stadium and Mandava were both banned due to lack of proper structural standards.

The turf at the National Sports Stadium is a little bumpy while there is need for some attention on the sitting bays, ablution and drainage facilities. These flows at both stadiums have not been addressed as yet.

Zimbabwe Football Association president Felton Kamambo expressed disappointment over the development and hinted the Warriors could use venues in South Africa for their home games.

“This is disappointing. It is a sad development anyone don’t want to see happening. We are engaging the authorities who own the stadiums with a view to have them fix the stadiums so that we can re-invite CAF for inspections,” said Kamambo.

“We don’t have a stadium as an association but we are confident the authorities who own the stadiums we have in the country will soon be in a position to say the facilities have been upgraded.”

ZIFA do not have any stadium under their ownership and they have been running around in recent weeks trying to persuade municipalities and the government who are the custodians of the venues.

Kamambo said South Africa could be their home for the next games unless something dramatic happens.

“Of course, we are still consulting. Any country in Southern Africa will be good for us. However, factoring in a number of issues, South Africa could do though we cannot really say we have decided.”

South Africa could be the best bet for Zimbabwe given that the bulk of the Warriors players ply their trade in the ABSA Premiership and they have ready followers to cheer them.

Besides, there are estimated one million Zimbabweans living in South Africa who can play a big role in cheering the Warriors or any of the country’s national team.

 

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