ZIFA in stadium quandary after football facilities condemned by CAF

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By Sports Reporter

THE Confederation of African Football (CAF) has condemned the state of all local football stadia after revealing that only Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo meets its set standards to host international matches.

CAF’s damming verdict on the poor state of local football stadia comes after its recent inspection ahead of FC Platinum’s participation in the ongoing group stages of the 2019-2020 CAF Champions League.

The 2018 Zimbabwe champions will play their home matches at Barbourfields.

The country’s football mother body, ZIFA revealed that CAF had declared the National Sports Stadium in Harare and Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane unfit to host international matches.

CAF also reportedly warned ZIFA that they face the grim prospect of playing their home matches outside the country if major renovations are not conducted at local football facilities.

“Following CAF’s stadium inspections last month, Mandava Stadium and NSS (National Sports Stadium) failed to meet minimum requirements to host CAF matches.

“Consequently, they have been removed from the list of homologated stadiums. CAF have also exceptionally authorised BF (Barbourfields) to host CAF matches,” ZIFA said in a statement.

The National Sports Stadium is owned by the Ministry of Public Works while Mandava is owned by local Premiership side, FC Platinum.

Local football stakeholders recently condemned the poor state of the NSS’s playing surface which has become very bumpy and hazardous to local footballers.

Early this year, CAF banned ZIFA from using the National Sports Stadium for two matches as punishment for the stampede that occurred before the Warriors’ final Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match against Congo Brazzaville in March last year.

A female soccer fan died and others were seriously injured as people jostled to find their way into the stadium.

CAF’s decision means ZIFA could host their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against reigning African Champions Algeria scheduled for August next year at Barbourfields.

Last month, ZIFA controversially changed the venue for the Warriors AFCON qualifier against Botswana from Barbourfields to the National Sports Stadium citing a floodlights problem at the facility, a claim which was dismissed by the Bulawayo City Council.