Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE National Sports Stadium has better chances of being cleared to host international games ahead of Barbourfields Stadium, as the Bulawayo City Council-owned facility still needs enormous work to meet required minimum standards.
In their report, Caf inspectors Derek Blackense and former Bafana Bafana legend Mark Fish, who were in the country last month, indicated that both facilities fall short of expectations and special attention should be given to the pitch, floodlight, stands and dressing rooms.
Caf made it clear that bucket seats are mandatory for both facilities if they are to convince the continental body to clear the stadiums for the 2021 Afcon qualifiers and 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Barbourfields Stadium, according to Caf, needs considerable renovation works ranging from the outer part of the stadium to the dressing rooms.
The dressing rooms were condemned as “too small” and Caf wants them expanded to accommodate seats and lockers for at least 25 players.
A massage table, tactical board and five hot and cold showers must also be installed to be approved.
Media facilities at both venues failed to meet the mark.
The Barbourfields Stadium structure presents a challenge in expanding dressing rooms, meaning architects have to come up with complex ways of modifying the dressing rooms.
Zifa has also approached the Government through the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to help expedite renovations at Barbourfields Stadium and National Sports Stadium to meet the required standards.
In a letter Zifa wrote to SRC on April 2, it indicated that a local inspection of the two venues will be conducted at the beginning of May before Caf is invited for another assessment between June 15 and July 15.
“We appeal to the Government to scale up efforts of renovating the stadiums to the required Caf levels. Our local inspection team, the First Instance Body (FIB) intends to inspect both stadiums beginning of May 2020. Once the FIB is satisfied with the progress, we will need a month to invite Caf for another inspection,” Zifa chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse wrote to SRC.
“Please note that if we do not adhere to Caf requirements on time, we risk playing our upcoming senior matches abroad and this will not be good for our country. We kindly request that you avail weekly progress reports to Zifa and the association will also be conducting weekly stadium inspections.” — @ZililoR.