Debate on Warriors alternative home rages on

NC chairman Lincon Mutasa

THE decision by the Zifa normalisation committee (NC) to stage the Warriors' 2026 World Cup home qualifier against Nigeria in Botswana has stirred huge debate on social media, with many people urging the committee to 'host' the game in South Africa instead.

Many argued that due to the big community of Zimbabweans in South Africa, the Warriors are assured of getting enough support.

There are also millions of Nigerian immigrants in South Africa, which means the clash, if staged in that country, could attract a full house.

NC chairman Lincon Mutasa told our sister paper NewsDay that they were considering hosting Nigeria on November 21 in Francistown, confirming that he has had positive engagements with Botswana Football officials.

Zimbabwe is set to play the home game outside the country after all local stadiums were condemned by Caf for failing to meet minimum standards to host international matches.

This is despite assurances by Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry that renovations at the country's main stadium, the National Sports Stadium, would be fast-tracked to ensure that World Cup games were played at home.

Warriors’ supporters, reacting to the story on NewsDay social media handles castigated the NC's suggestion that the match could be staged in Botswana.

"Why are you doing this to us?" queried Thomas Nyamasuka.

"Zimbabwe should play in South Africa because that is where there is the majority of our supporters compared to all our neighbours."

Roy Kavhura wrote, "South Africa was going to be a better option. Usually, when we play in South Africa mostly it will be like a home game because many Zimbabweans are based there, going by previous games we have played there."

Another user by the name Gift Chiya wrote, "I think South Africa is the best, in terms of support."

Botswana has one facility certified by Caf to host international matches — the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown, while South Africa boasts of seven world class facilities certified, namely FNB Stadium and Orlando Stadium (Johannesburg), Mbombela Stadium (Neispruit), Royal Bafokeng Stadium (Rustenburg), Moses Mabhida Stadium (Durban), Cape Town Stadium (Cape Town) and Nelson Mandela Bay (Port ElElizabeth).

Mutasa said they were considering Francistown because of its proximity to Harare.

“We have spoken with Botswana and they are agreeable to helping us. It's quite near. I'm not sure if Beira (Mozambique) is available, we are still checking, but definitely we have spoken to Botswana and the engagements have been positive,” Mutasa said.

The deadline to provide the venue to Caf was Friday.

Zimbabwe are in Group C of the 2026 Fifa World Cup African qualifiers together with Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Rwanda and Lesotho.

Zimbabwe begin their campaign away in Rwanda on November 13. A week later, the Warriors host the Super Eagles of Nigeria with the match likely to be played in Botswana due to the deteriorating state of our local stadia.

The National Sports Stadium was condemned in 2019, and is currently closed for use by local clubs due to water reticulation system failure.

Toilets and ablution facilities are a mess due to the unavailability of water, while the playing surface is also suffering from the effects of overuse.

Rufaro Stadium, closed in 2019 for renovations, is still to be opened.

Major works have been done to spruce up the facility, but it is not yet ready for use.

Barbourfields was also condemned some few years ago, and its owners never bothered to correct the areas that were flagged off by Caf and Fifa.

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