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Zimbabwe Warriors likely to play their home matches in SA

by Staff reporter
05 Apr 2024 at 06:00hrs | Views
HOMELESS Warriors are likely to play their next 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying home match against Lesotho in South Africa after the government failed in its promise to rehabilitate the National Sports Stadium to Confederation of African Football (Caf) standards.

The Zimbabwe senior national team played their last home match against Nigeria in Rwanda where they had faced the hosts in their first group match.

They drew both matches.

In June, the qualifiers continue with two matches against Lesotho (home) and South Africa (away) where they are likely to be led by coach Norman Mapeza.

Zifa have said that they are looking around in the southern African region for a venue to host their next home match, but it is likely that they will settle for South Africa to cut travel costs and also maximise on training time.

The group match against Lesotho is scheduled for June 5 and playing that match in South Africa gives the Warriors an opportunity to prepare for Bafana Bafana in South Africa.

Zifa Normalisation Committee chairperson Lincoln Mutasa said the team will not be returning to Rwanda for their next home match and will seek a venue within the region.

"Caf required us to suggest a venue by March 27 and by that time no local ground had been granted approval by the continental football governing body to host matches, so we were left with no option but to play our match away," Mutasa told NewsDay Sport.

"However, having played our first home matches in Rwanda since being readmitted back into international football, we felt Rwanda is a bit far and we are looking at venues around Sadc [Southern African Development Community] and will make it public once all the necessary modalities have been carried out."

Zimbabwe will play South Africa three days after the Lesotho clash. After that, the Warriors next assignment will be at home against Benin in March next year.

But there are 2025 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers coming up with the draw set to be conducted soon.

The government promised that the Warriors would play their next home matches at the National Sports Stadium.

Nothing has been done to uplift the stadium to the required standards despite the facility having been shut down for renovations.

A picture circulated in the social media circles this week showing the grass in the facility giving up due to neglect.

In February, Sports minister Kirsty Coventry said that the government had found partners for the renovations to take place ahead of the Lesotho match.

"The goal is to make sure that we do not play another game outside the country and I do believe we are on track to make sure that it happens," she said.

"I promise you that I am doing everything in my power to make sure that we will not play another game outside this country."

Source - newsday
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