Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
CAF president Ahmad Ahmad has urged Zimbabwean authorities to work speedily on the country’s football stadia to avoid the embarrassment of representative sides playing their home matches on foreign soil.
Africa’s most powerful man in football said they will not compromise on standards to accommodate countries that turn a blind eye on their facilities, Zimbabwe included, and therefore the onus lies with the authorities to work on their stadia ahead of pending international matches.
The Warriors play against Algeria in a crucial Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on November 9, while Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum will be in action in a Caf Champions League preliminary round qualifier on the weekend of November 20-22, with the return leg coming five days later.
In a response to Chronicle Sport questions during a virtual press conference with journalists from various media houses on the continent, Ahmad said he was aware that some stadia in Zimbabwe were either owned by the State or local authorities and it was therefore prudent that they, in consultation with football authorities, expedite the issue of ensuring the facilities were up to expected international standards.
“Look, we take no pleasure in having a national team play its home games away from home. It is my hope that authorities there (Zimbabwe) quickly work on what is required and we will then send a specialist team to do the inspections and if, and this is what I am hoping for too, they find the facilities to be up to standard, we will not hesitate to have a stadium certified and your teams enjoy home ground advantage.
“However, in the same vein, if they are still below what we expect, be rest assured that as Caf we shall be left with no option, but to take that painful but necessary route of taking away your home advantage.
“But let me be clear that this is not what we want,” said Ahmad.
Zifa’s First Instance Body chairman Piraishe Mabhena, who last month painted a gloomy picture on the possibility of Zimbabwe playing host to Algeria, yesterday said they have been given a deadline of September 20 to submit progress reports on renovation work done so far at Barbourfields Stadium and the National Sports Stadium.
He said as such his committee will this weekend be inspecting Barbourfields Stadium, with NSS on their agenda early next week.
“Further to our correspondence with Caf, the FIB shall be conducting a re-inspection of Barbourfields Stadium this weekend and National Sports Stadium early next week to ascertain the current position of the renovations as well as get commitments from the stadium owners on the timelines for the uncompleted work.
“We will then table our report to Caf for further guidance. We have a deadline of September 20 to submit our reports to Caf,” said Mabhena.