By Sports Reporter
SPORTS Minister Kirsty Coventry has blamed the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) for failing to convince the continental football governing body CAF to give Zimbabwe a reprieve after confirming the Warriors would play their 2021 AFCON qualifier against Algeria in neighbouring South Africa.
CAF last month issued a blanket ban on all the country’s stadia which left the government scrambling to renovate the facilities in the hope CAF would reverse its decision after another inspection of the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields Stadium.
Despite the last ditch efforts, Coventry however confirmed Tuesday that CAF had refused to give ZIFA a reprieve, forcing the local football body to move the Warriors’ next home match against Algeria on March 29 to Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg.
“ZIFA have failed to assure CAF that the work we are doing in the stadiums will safeguard our national teams playing home games in Zimbabwe. ZIFA now have to come up with a stadium outside of Zimbabwe,” Coventry revealed in a statement on her official Twitter account.
The former swimmer, however, revealed that the management of the 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium has been transferred from the Ministry of Local Government to her ministry.
Coventry believes the transfer of the facility which had not been refurbished for over a decade resulting in it being banned from hosting any international matches, was a good step towards transforming the country’s sporting fortunes.
“Local government (ministry) and municipalities own and operate our sports facilities and it has been up to that federation to organise the event. The Ministry of Sport, despite it being sport, has had no role to play,” she said.
Coventry added: “Good news: It has finally been agreed that the ownership and operations of the National Sports Stadium in Zimbabwe will now be transferred to the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation. We have the experience and passion to now use this opportunity for Zimbabwe to become a sporting powerhouse,” she said.