By Anna Chibamu
SPORTS minister Kirsty Coventry is optimistic the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will approve the staging of the Zimbabwe-Algeria match in the country’s condemned stadiums after renovations are said to be almost complete with only a few outstanding touches.
The minister told the Senate during a question and answer session on Thursday that renovations of the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields were complete and ready to host international matches if CAF gave them a thumbs up.
All sporting activities were suspended due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in March this year.
“Yes, honourable Senator, our national stadiums have been renovated; that is the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields. We are only left with two outstanding issues at the National Stadium that is the procurement of the buffet seats and the electronic ticketing which is now being procured through the tendering process.
“This past weekend, there was an inspection team that visited the two stadiums, the one in Barbourfields in Bulawayo and the other one at 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 buffet seating and the electronic ticketing which we will send to CAF for it to make the decisions.”
Added Coventry, “At the moment, it is looking very positive to have our national team playing, the grounds are looking very good in terms of all the other aspects that CAF had wanted upgraded, including the lighting, the changing rooms, the medical room etcetera.”
The minister was responding to Senator Chief Zama Nthua Ngungumbane Mkhwananzi who sought clarity on the status of the country’s local football stadiums.
Chief Ngungumbane had asked if the country’s stadiums were ready to host the national team when the Warriors play Algeria.
He asked if government made any contingency plans to ensure the national team and FC Platinum that is representing the country in the CAF Champions League will find alternative stadiums to use.
The minister said the “Confederation of African Football (CAF) has not spoken or sent any reference to any of the stakeholders that the resumption of play will be within this year”.
“So, we are at this point in time, very positive that we will be approved for our games to go on,” said the minister.
“If at any point in the next few weeks we see that CAF is not going to be positive with the upgrade that has been done, we could then start to look at other things but until we have confirmation as to when these games will take off, there is no reason for us to not be confident in the upgrades that we have done to pass CAF inspections.”
Coventry added, “We are on track with meeting those deadlines. We are re-submitting another form to show the updates that have been given so far and that will be sent to CAF for them to evaluate us.”
CAF condemned the use of local stadiums which the continental body ruled unfit for play as they did not meet international standards.