BY FORTUNE MBELE
BAFANA BAFANA legend Mark Fish has hailed football stakeholders in Zimbabwe who are making frantic efforts to have the country’s football facilities meet international standards as work at the National Sports and Barbourfields (BF) stadiums progresses.
Fish is part of Caf inspection team which is in the country to assess the state of the stadiums ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers in October.
Yesterday, the team was at BF after inspecting the National Sports Stadium the previous day, with the next inspection due for August.
Zimbabwe was ordered by Caf to play their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Algeria on March 29 outside the country.
Fish clarified his jurisdiction in the process.
“They have used ex-footballers to accompany Caf inspectors. We are coming from a footballers’ point of view. We are coming to see certain things that they (Caf officials) would not see. They are using the footballers’ perspective to assist them. It’s a unique way, but it’s important because at the end of the day, football fans and the media, you come to the stadium to watch footballers. It’s a bigger picture looking at football and I have travelled throughout Africa and this is a situation that needs to change on the continent so we can uplift our football,” Fish said.
The South African legend said they were impressed by the work that was being done.
“We have gone to your national stadium in Harare and there is a lot of work that is being done. You have fantastic stadiums. I like this stadium (BF) very much because it’s a multi-sports facility, has athletics tracks around it. For me as a footballer this is nice because you want fans to be close and if this is a full stadium, you would want to play football here,” Fish said.
“This is a phenomenal stadium, it’s an old stadium, but certain things need to happen so that you can uplift it. The initiative that is happening with government, with Zifa, with the media, with football lovers and everyone that is getting involved is what we are seeing at the moment.”
He said they would be reporting back to Caf on what they have seen within the timelines before the next inspection in August.
“We don’t make comparisons. Each country and its stadium has its own unique pros and cons. Unfortunately, a ban was imposed on you guys, but if you look at it the other way, certain things probably needed to change and now because of this, it looks like everything is happening at the stadium that would not have happened,” Fish said.
“The government has got involved and they understand the importance of football, the passion that the Bulawayo people have for football. It is important to have a world-class stadium so the fans can watch their national team.”