THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) has approached the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to plead for the opening of the National Sports Stadium amid fears that the league programme might not finish on time.
The giant facility was closed in June due to the deteriorating state of the playing pitch, and water reticulation system problems which rendered it a health hazard.
At the time, a total of eight teams were using the stadium for their home matches. They were forced to look for alternate home venues outside Harare.
The Harare-based teams relocated to other venues across the country, including Baobab Stadium in Ngezi, Mandava in Zvishavane, Bata Stadium in Gweru, Barbourfields in Bulawayo and Nyamhunga in Kariba.
But with the NSS allowed to host a number of national and private events, including two football matches in recent times, the PSL feels they should also be given permission to play their league games at the facility.
NSS hosted the ZDF Cup final match featuring the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Select against Malawi on August 15 as part of the Defense Forces Day celebrations.
Early last month, a funeral service for the late ZAOGA leader Apostle Ezekiel Guti was also held there, attracting a full house.
On Monday, the stadium hosted President Emmerson Mnangagwa's inauguration ceremony, an event which was concluded by a football match between Zimbabwe select and Namibian teams .
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This has prompted the PSL chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele to sound the SRC to check whether they could also open the stadium doors for his league clubs so as to try and ease off pressure on the other facilities across the country.
“We have written to the SRC to check on the availability of the National Sports Stadium given that it has hosted some events in recent times. We are hoping that we will get a positive response,” Ndebele said.
Given that Zimbabwe has been re-admitted to the international football family, Ndebele wants to have midweek fixtures to make up for the time when the league will be frozen to make way for the CHAN and World Cup qualifiers later this year.
“With the stadia that are available, we have a challenge of having mid-week fixtures because the facilities will be over-used,” Ndebele said.
“If we can get either the National Sports Stadium or Rufaro Stadium or even both, then that will be perfect. We are happy that we now have an approved facility in Chisumbanje (Green Fuel Arena) but due to its location, it does not alleviate the problem of Barbourfields and Bata stadiums.”
Green Fuel Arena, the home of promoted side Green Fuel was homologated this week and will be able to ease pressure on Gibbo Stadium which was previously housing three league teams.
“With the CHAN and the Fifa World Cup qualifiers around the corner, we need to have mid-week fixtures so that we will be able to finish our programme within the scheduled time,” Ndebele said.
The league programme is scheduled to end in November, but there are 14 rounds of matches still to be played.
Rufaro Stadium, closed in 2019 for renovations, is still to be reopened.
It is the closure of the NSS, though, which has put a huge strain on the league programme as almost half of the 18 teams in the league, including giants Dynamos and Caps United, were using the facility for their home matches.
The only teams that have approved home venues are Highlanders, Chicken Inn, Bulawayo Chiefs, Ngezi Platinum Stars, FC Platinum, Triangle, Hwange and Sheasham.
Dynamos are now sharing Barbourfields with their number one enemy Highlanders while Caps United and Black Rhinos settled for Bata.
Cranborne Bullets joined ZPC Kariba when they reverted back to their recently homologated Nyamhunga Stadium while Herentals are using Mandava Stadium.
Simba Bhora shuttle to Baobab Stadium for their home matches while Mutare based Manica Diamonds use Gibbo in Triangle.