May 3, 2024

Fans react to Orlando ‘home’ for Warriors

Spread the love

Eddie Chikamhi

THE Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association have implored authorities to speed up the renovations at the National Sports Stadium after it emerged yesterday the Warriors will play their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier home game against Lesotho at Orlando Stadium in South Africa on June 7.

This will be the second time that the Warriors will have to host their opponents on foreign soil as all of the country’s stadiums remain suspended by FIFA and CAF, after failing to meet the required standards.

The Government has since taken up the responsibility to spruce up the National Sports Stadium, although the work has taken longer than expected.

The Warriors used Huye Stadium in Rwanda as their home ground when they drew 1-1 against Nigeria in November last year.

And, after months of uncertainty, ZIFA yesterday finally came in the open and confirmed the home of Soweto giants Orlando Pirates — Orlando stadium — as their choice for the Group C assignment against Likuena (Crocodiles).

The Normalisation Committee running ZIFA had also toyed with the idea of taking the game to Botswana but it emerged that the bid to cut down on costs forced them to settle on Johannesburg, as the Warriors will face Bafana Bafana in Free State on June 11.

ZIFA’s announcement was met with mixed reactions from the cross-section of football fans with ZNSSA secretary-general Joseph Mutawu calling on Zimbabweans based in South Africa to go in their numbers to support the Warriors in the two games.

“As Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association, we urge our Zimbabwean sisters and brothers resident in South Africa to come in their numbers on the match-day.

“As an Association, plans are also in motion to send several supporters for the game in South Africa. We are working with the Normalisation Committee, the government, through the Sports and Recreation Commission, and other interested sponsors to make sure that we send quite several supporters to South Africa for the Lesotho game,” said Mutawu.

While a decent crowd will be expected at Orlando, the move by South Africa Football Association to take their game to Bloemfontein appears to be tactical.

There are fewer Zimbabweans based in Bloemfontein when compared to the bigger cities which include Johannesburg, Durban, or Cape Town hence Bafana Bafana are likely to have an upper hand in the terraces by suffocating the Warriors band of fans.

ZNSSA urged authorities to expedite National Sports Stadium refurbishment.

“Supporters and fans are being denied the right to watch and support their favourite team at home. The team is also missing on taking home advantage through the 12th man.

“It also becomes very expensive for us supporters to go to other countries which we will be using as our home, to support the Warriors.

“It is a disenfranchisement to the Zimbabwean football supporters and fans who cannot raise travel fares and accommodation to go and see their flagship football team in action.

“It is also a disadvantage to the Warriors as they cannot utilise the home advantage. It also does not paint a good picture of our nation, that it cannot have at least one FIFA certified football stadium.

“Be that as it may, we cannot cry over spilt milk. It is what it is,” said Matawu.

Orlando in Soweto was officially opened in 1959.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this: