RUFARO Stadium is likely to be ready to host the Big Harare Derby next week, which faced uncertainty over the unavailability of the National Sports Stadium booked for a church crusade on Sunday May 7.
by KEVIN MAPASURE
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) had resigned itself to postponing one of its premium fixtures, but it has emerged that Rufaro, which was undergoing renovations, is almost ready to start hosting matches.
PSL has since engaged Harare City Council to see if work at the stadium could be expedited to get the facility ready for the big match on May 7.
Council officials yesterday told NewsDaySport that the new natural grass turf was almost ready to host matches and should be ready for the Sunday match.
“The turf is almost ready. In fact, had it not been for the drainage problem on part of the ground, it would have been ready for use even this week,” said one official. “I am sure that it will be ready for next week’s matches.”
Yesterday, PSL secretary-general Kenny Ndebele said that his organisation had engaged the council to try and make sure that the big match goes ahead.
He said that this week’s matches, which also faced the threat of getting postponed due to Pastor Chris’ crusade, would go ahead after all.
The Caps United-Chapungu match will be played at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon, following negotiations between the Sports ministry and the Ministry of Local Government which administers the giant facility.
Tomorrow’s match between Yadah FC and Dynamos has been moved to Morris Depot as have been the matches featuring Harare City versus ZPC Kariba and the Black Rhinos-FC Platinum clash.
“This weekend’s matches are on, Caps United and Chapungu will play their match at the National Sports Stadium, but the Sunday and Monday matches will be played at Morris Depot,” Ndebele said. “The Monday and Tuesday matches will also be played at Morris Depot. We are still making efforts to ensure that the Dynamos-Caps United match set for next week goes ahead. We have engaged Harare City Council to see if work at Rufaro can be sped up so that the match can be played at that stadium.”
PSL released an amended fixture programme with the Black Rhinos versus FC Platinum match moved from Monday to Tuesday at Morris Depot.
PSL and Zifa had to come up with a contingency measure to make use of Morris Depot after the Ministry of Local Government shut out the top-flight league from the National Sports Stadium which has been hosting all the Harare-based clubs so far this season.
Despite pleas from PSL to the ministry for them to avail the facility at least this weekend since the crusade is on next week, the responsible authorities remained steadfast that the stadium could not host football matches until after the church service.
The expected availability of Rufaro Stadium is set to alleviate pressure on the National Sports Stadium, what a way for the facility to reopen with the Big Harare derby next week on Sunday.
With both clubs fancying themselves and with the season still in its infancy, the match could attract another bumper crowd as has been in keeping with this fixture, which has been producing the biggest attendances in recent years.
Today: Bulawayo City v Triangle (Barbourfields), Caps United v Chapungu (NSS).
Tomorrow: Yadah v Dynamos (Morris Depot), Shabanie v Tsholotsho (Maglas), Hwange v Chicken Inn (Colliery), Highlanders v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Barbourfields).
Monday: How Mine v Bantu Rovers (Luveve), Harare City v ZPC Kariba (Morris Depot).
Tuesday: Black Rhinos v FC Platinum (Morris Depot)