February 27, 2020

Zimbabwe’s Sports Minister Speaks on Stadium Ban

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Hanganani Nleya

ZIMBABWE’S Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry has broken her silence after the Confederation of African Football banned all stadiums in the country from staging international games.

Coventry took to microblogging site, Twitter, to assure the nation that she was working on rectifying the situation but judging from the responses the majority of Zimbabweans are not amused.

Bulawayo’s Barbourfields, which had been the only stadium left standing after CAF issued a blanket ban on the National Sports Stadium, Rufaro and Mandava, was recently added to the list of grounds which cannot host international matches.

Barbourfields stadium was given partial approval, to stage such matches, depending on certain renovations — including the improvement of the floodlighting system — ahead of a further inspection by CAF this year.

However, with no work being done at the stadium, since the last visit by the CAF inspectors last year, and virtually nothing being done to improve the National Sports Stadium and Rufaro, the continent’s football governing body dropped a bombshell on Wednesday when they barred all the country’s major stadiums from staging matches held under their portfolio.

Such is the embarrassing scenario that CAF even decided it wasn’t worthwhile to send another group of inspectors because virtually nothing has been done since the last visit by their officials.

With just over a month before Zimbabwe host Algeria in a 2021 AFCON qualifier, Zifa will now have to seek an alternative venue in neighbouring countries for that match.

It will be the first time in the history of the Warriors, that they have been forced to play a home AFCON qualifier on neutral soil although in 1969, the country was forced to host Australia in Maputo in a 1970 World Cup qualifier.

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