Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
WARRIORS’ interim coach Rahman Gumbo says the good crowd at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday should challenge Zifa to stage national team games all over the country.
The senior national side made a return to Bulawayo with an impressive 3-1 thrashing of Mauritius in the African Nations Championship first round second-leg qualifier. The Warriors had last played in the City of Kings 10 years ago when they beat Zambia 3-1 in a Cosafa cup final.
Zifa has in the past cited financial challenges as well as infrastructure constraints as the reason for staging national team games in Harare alone. Besides the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Barbourfields and Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane are the other two venues that have been approved by Caf to host international matches.
However, Zifa was sanctioned by the Caf disciplinary board for crowd trouble that took place at the National Sports Stadium in March and barred from using it for two official home matches, forcing the national association to move the Chan match to Barbourfields.
“It was great to have the national team play at Barbourfields after a very long time and I loved the atmosphere. If Barbourfields can be full like this then surely national team matches must be played all over the country. Our fans should, however, improve with regards to supporting individual players and back the entire team. When a player wears the national team jersey, he represents the entire country,” said Gumbo.
This was in reference to predominantly Highlanders’ fans cheering their national team players Prince Dube and Nqobizitha Masuku more than their Warriors’ teammates.
The Warriors next fixture is a date with Somalia in the first round of the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers following a draw held in Egypt yesterday.
The games will be played between 2 to 10 September. The 14 winners in the 1st round will join 26 top-ranked nations, in the second round where they will be drawn into ten groups.
Meanwhile, Triangle United have settled for Emagumeni for their Caf Confederation Cup debut against Burundi side Rukinzo on Sunday. – @innocentskizoe