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Barbourfields renovations satisfy Govt

by Staff reporter
01 Apr 2021 at 05:57hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE might soon push for the return of international football action, at Barbourfields, as the stadium has been renovated to standards which the Government feel will meet the CAF requirements.

Barbourfields has been going through a facelift, since last year, when the Government undertook the initiative to renovate some of the country's major stadia.

The National Sports Stadium, the country's biggest sports facility, also underwent major renovations, and has been hosting some international matches.

Two 2021 AFCON qualifiers, when the Warriors hosted African champions, Algeria, and former champions, Zambia, have been played at the giant stadium, in the past four months.

The decision to renovate the stadia came after CAF inspectors condemned the domestic football arenas, raising fears the Warriors, and other national sides, could be forced to host their matches, on foreign soil.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, announced at the post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, that both the giant stadium, and Barbourfields, have been spruced up to acceptable standards.

For now, until the CAF inspectors provide it with a certificate to host major matches, like those featuring the Warriors, Barbourfields can only stage international games, involving youth and women's teams.

Mutsvangwa told journalists Government committed resources for the renovation of Barbourfields, and significant progress has been made.

''Following the outcry by sport fans, after the Confederation of African Football and FIFA condemnation of national stadia (National Sports Stadium) and Barbourfields, Government embarked on a project to renovate the same,'' she said.

"Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that Barbourfields is now equipped with the standard football facilities, including a well-maintained pitch with CAF-compliant goal posts and nets, changing rooms, mixed zone area, parking, and a disabled ramp, to help people living with disabilities, to access the facility."  

The stadium, which was built in the 1930s, has struggled to keep up with the modern trends, and the changing requirements of the game. ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, yesterday hailed the authorities, for taking the leading role, in the renovations of the country's major stadia.

He said CAF had advised them all the outstanding work should have been completed, by the time the next inspection, is conducted.  The Warriors are set to return to international action, when they begin the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers, expected to run from June to October.  

"We have temporary homologation for the National Sports Stadium in Harare,'' said Gwesela.  ''That is the only stadium, provisionally authorised by CAF, to host international matches for men.  

"CAF have reminded us, in previous correspondence, that we need to speed up the renovations at the National Sports Stadium and ensure that the stadium is brought to the required CAF levels.  "We need to attend to the issue of individual seats, venue operations centre, electronic access and CAF have also encouraged us to improve the turf.''  

Last month, the CAF leadership allowed several countries, to host their AFCON qualifiers, on home soil. Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Niger and Burundi were given the authority to play their Nations Cup qualifiers, at home, last month.

 However, CAF insisted their decision was only a temporary one, and was taken after considering the current travel restrictions, being implemented around the world, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The CAF emergency committee has, based on the Covid-19 pandemic and current travel restrictions, decided to exceptionally lift the ban on the Siaka Steven Stadium, and allow only the remaining AFCON 2021 qualifiers (Matchday 5 and 6) to be played," CAF said, in a letter, to the Sierra Leone FA.

"After the above-mentioned match-days, Sierra Leone's playing territory will automatically again be removed, from the list of CAF-approved stadiums, and will not be available for selection on CAF competition management system." Similar letters were also sent to Niger, Burkina Faso and Burundi.  

Burundi, who had been in talks with Morocco to host their tie against Central African Republic in Casablanca, were to play in Bujumbura in Group E. Sierra Leone had also secured a venue in Conakry, Guinea, to host their Group L tie against Benin.

However, after being allowed to play in their backyard, the match against Benin could not be played, on Tuesday.

The visitors refused to plunge into action, because of a row over Covid-19 tests, for five of their players. Both Sierra Leone and Benin, who still have a chance to qualify for the next AFCON finals, could not find a way to resolve the impasse, despite the intervention of CAF officials.

Source - the herald