ZIFA seems to have been caught up in a lie about reasons for moving the Warriors’ Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Botswana set for November 15, from Barbourfields Stadium to the National Sports Stadium by using Caf as cover up.
Zifa claimed that Caf had ordered the national association to switch the match venue to Harare due to uncertainty over Barbourfields Stadium’s floodlight system. Zifa communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela said the Caf directive came after the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) had failed to guarantee that Barbourfields Stadium floodlights were in good working condition since the game would kick-off at 6PM.
“The decision to move the match follows communication from the Bulawayo City Council on the issue of floodlights at Barbourfields Stadium where they could not guarantee their good working order as they were last in use in 2017 during the Cosafa Women’s Championship. In the absence of such a guarantee and in pursuit of conformance with their minimum requirements, Caf has switched the match to the National Sports Stadium to avoid potential of floodlight failure during the match, a situation that could trigger security risk to the fans, players and officials,” Gwesela said on Tuesday.
He further claimed that Zifa had pleaded with Caf to change kick-off time to 3PM to avoid the floodlights issue, but the continental football governing body turned down the request, arguing that all qualifiers across Africa would start simultaneously at 6PM.
However, BCC senior public relations officer Nesisa Mpofu yesterday dismissed Zifa’s floodlights claim as a red herring.
“The City of Bulawayo did get communication from a representative from Zifa asking about the floodlights at Barbourfields Stadium and they were duly advised through a letter after tests that the lights were in a good working condition,” said Mpofu in a statement.
“Council, however, explained that there was need for Zifa to further engage (the) Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), taking into consideration the high power outages in the country. Zifa was also advised that as per norm, applicants intending to use the stadium should pay for floodlights in advance and equally meet the hire costs for the Stadium.
“Barbourfields Stadium is reserved once all the necessary payments have been done. If no payment has been made, council considers that there is no booking of the stadium. In the instance of a booking made and payment done, council avails a standby generator that has the capacity to power the floodlights in case of an electricity outage. In this instance, the issue of the venue switch does not arise as no payments were made nor was there any booking made for the stadium,” she said.