BY FORTUNE MBELE
THE Confederation of African Football (Caf) has temporarily okayed the National Sports Stadium (NSS) to host senior men’s matches, but ordered that outstanding issues be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
Caf wrote to Zifa on Wednesday advising of the new developments, but maintained the ban on Barbourfields Stadium.
The continental soccer-governing body, however warned that failure to implement other demands such as the installation of bucket seats, which remain outstanding, will see the temporary approval being removed.
The Warriors will host Algeria in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Sports Stadium next month, four days after playing the African champions on their own turf but the government has to hasten to address the bucket seats and turnstiles issues that remain outstanding for the country to continue hosting Caf senior men matches.
In the correspondence addressed to Zifa chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse, Caf said: “We are satisfied to see the progress made in the National Sports Stadium in order to bring the venue to the required standard. Therefore Caf has decided to remove the ban and grant a temporary approval for NSS subject to the continuation of the implementation of the remarks made in the previous inspection visits.”
The same could, however, not be said for BF, which is still lagging behind in a number of issues including bucket seats, turnstiles, changing rooms and lighting.
“In relation to the previous Caf correspondence requesting a pre-inspection report for the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields Stadium, we confirm receipt of the reports and photos evidence of the concerned stadiums,” reads the letter from Caf. “With relation to Barbourfields Stadium, based on information received, the decision is to uphold the ban for use in Caf men’s senior matches.”
Caf said work on the NSS as well as the procurement of necessary equipment should not stop.
“Kindly note that the failure to implement the recommendations fully over the next period of time may compel Caf to remove the temporary approval of the stadium. We encourage that you continue to with the improvement works that are in place in order to complete the renovation programme and procurement of necessary equipment in both
Zifa yesterday also confirmed NSS had been conditionally approved by Caf.
“In granting the temporary approval, Caf indicated that they are charmed by Zimbabwe’s efforts, but the continental football authority underscored that renovations must continue until the stadium is quickly brought to required standard,” Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said.
A few months ago, Sports and Recreation Commission director-general Prince Mupazviriho said the NSS was ready to host international matches, acknowledging the grey areas.
Mupazviriho said: “The reason for those aspects (bucket seats, e-ticketing and turnstiles) to be outstanding is that most of the companies who manufacture (the equipment) are closed and we have to import,” Mupazviriho said.
He said the authorisation had been granted to flight tenders for the equipment.
Gwesela said the home match against Algeria would be played without spectators at the venue, the reason Caf might have given the NSS the nod as the issue of turnstiles and e-ticketing and the individual bucket seats will not be at play on the day.