ZIFA is satisfied that the infrastructure in Zvishavane has the capacity to host the Caf Confederation Cup matches.
BY MUKUDZEI CHINGWERE
Zimbabwe’s representative in the competition FC Platinum are based in the mining town and are now three weeks away before they host their first home assignment in the competition against Sofapaka of Kenya.
In 2012, the miners failed to host El Merreikh of Sudan in the first leg, second round of the Champions League due to lack of accommodation and had to play the match in Harare.
By that time there was no hotel in the town after Nilton Hotel was gutted down by fire a few years back, but that Achilles hills has been addressed by the construction of the five-star Pote Hills Hotel, which has played host to a World Bank delegation.
With Sofapaka expected to land at Bulawayo’s Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport for the second leg, the distance between the country’s second largest city and Zvishavane is 185km.
This is well below the Caf 200km standard that stipulates that should the distance be over that, then the hosts have to fly in their visitors.
This means Sofapaka can safely make the road trip.
Mandava has hosted some high profile local matches and is regarded as one of the best stadiums in the country.
The continental mother body however, is yet to send their grounds committee to the stadium with the competition set to roll into life next week, the delay seems to have been a result of Caf’s commitments with the African Cup of Nations which end in Equatorial Guinea tomorrow.
“We are still waiting for members of Caf to come and asses the stadium and the infrastructure in Zvishavane.
“They have not yet communicated with us the date they are coming, but we are expecting them anytime from now,” said Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela.
“We are very confident that they can host high profile international matches in Zvishavane. Mandava Stadium is a very good stadium which I have no doubt will pass. Our grounds committee member Wilfred Mukuna inspected the stadium before and was satisfied with its condition.
“Again they now have a hotel in Zvishavane which was renovated and now has the capacity to host international delegates,” said Gwesela.
FC Platinum media liaison officer Chido Chizondo said they have already made some upgrades to the stadium so that it can meet international standards.
“We have made some renovations to the stadium including upgrading our dressing rooms. The turf has also been improved and I can safely say the ground is now ready,” she said.
The Zimbabwean side is travelling to Kenya next Friday to play the first leg of the African safari against Sofapaka on the 15th of this month.
Today, Pure Platinum Play are playing a friendly match against Bulawayo giants Highlanders in Bulawayo which might be enough to assess their team before the big one.