FC Platinum could host El Merreikh at Mandava

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Premiership outfit FC Platinum moved closer to hosting El Merreikh at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane in the first leg, first round of the Caf Champions League next Saturday after a part deal was struck between the two clubs yesterday.

While Merreikh stated, in their communication yesterday, that they need to fly direct to Zvishavane from Harare on March 20, a chartered plane will be available to take them to Masvingo, 95km from the match venue.

There is no suitable accommodation in Zvishavane which meets Caf standards and Platinum and Merreikh have to agree on the road journey between Masvingo and Mandava before a final decision can be reached.

In the preliminary round second leg last month, Green Mamba of Swaziland travelled by road from Beitbridge to Masvingo, where they stayed and trained before making the road journey on the match day.

This, according to the match commissioner, violated the standing rules of Caf which state, among other issues: “If the distance between the capital city and the venue of the match is superior to 200km, the host association shall provide the visitors with an airplane transport to the venue of the match and back.”

“If this is not possible, the match shall be played in the capital city except by agreement between the two teams.”

Caf had ordered that next week’s match be moved to either Harare or Bulawayo since Zvishavane does not have suitable accommodation for visiting teams and officials, leading to a flurry of communication between Zifa and Caf. Caf had not replied to Zifa’s appeal late yesterday where Platinum had offered to charter a plane for the visiting team.

The Sudan Football Association (SFA), however, seemed sympathetic to Platinum and wrote to Zifa yesterday stating that Platinum must organise a flight to the match venue as they will land in Harare on March 20.

“With reference to our letter dated March 7 and relating to the said match, we would like to inform you that (the) Al Merreikh Sports Club delegation will arrive in Harare from Addis Ababa on March 20 2012 by Ethiopian Airways, flight no 883 at 1245pm.
“Please arrange the domestic flight directly to Zvishavane city in which the match will be played,” wrote SFA general secretary Madgi Shams Eldin.

Zifa communications manager Nicky Dhlamini-Moyo said Platinum had written a letter to Zifa asking them to facilitate the hiring of a plane from the Airforce of Zimbabwe.

Phil Muvengwa, the Platinum secretary-general, said while they were also in receipt of the letter from the SFA, they would wait for official communication from Caf, through Zifa, on whether they were in agreement on the proposal.

“We cannot base our decision on that; we need official communication from Zifa,” he said yesterday.
Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said: “We now just need to convince them to take that journey (Masvingo-Zvishavane) by road. They are assured of security throughout the journey and it should be nothing to worry about.

“We don’t see Caf saying no, now that the club itself is comfortable with the flight arrangements and we will continue working on the finer details today and tomorrow (yesterday and today).”

Zifa had argued on Monday that, staging games outside the traditional venues of Harare and Bulawayo would help spread the game across the country.

“It is our submission that staging Caf club games in places like Zvishavane is in keeping with the spirit of growing the game of football. We respect Caf’s Rules and Regulations in terms of hosting Caf competitions and to that end we confirm the contingency plans for visiting teams and match officials.”