by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) is hopeful of meeting the new deadline set by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to refurbish its stadia to international standards.
CAF has set a deadline of June 15, months after it banned Zimbabwe from hosting matches.
ZIFA has to ensure the National Sports Stadium in the capital Harare and Barbourfields in the second largest city of Bulawayo meet the required international standards or its national teams will be forced to play their home matches outside the country.
Xolisani Gwesela, the ZIFA Communications and Media Manager, said the association was hopeful of meeting the deadline despite refurbishment works being deferred as part of an ongoing lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We are confident that the issues raised will be attended to despite the current suspension of works,” Gwesela said.
CAF inspection team at the end of February raised concern at the state of the spectators’ stands, media tribunes as well as the doping, medical and changing rooms.
A team of inspectors led by officials from South Africa was in Zimbabwe last month to assess progress made since February.
“The venues, for now, have been partially approved for use for youth and women games which is evidence of the work that has been done so far,” Gwesela said.
The Under 20 women team is due to play Ethiopia in the second round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers at new dates to be approved by the world governing body once it is deemed the world is safe from the global pandemic.
Until all sporting activities globally came to a standstill, Zimbabwe faced the embarrassment of staging its home matches in foreign territory, starting with the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against cup holders, Algeria.
The fixture was likely to be played at Orlando Stadium in neighbouring South Africa, before CAF postponed the fixtures that were scheduled for last month.
ZIFA would thus be hopeful its stadia will be ready to host matches when the international fixtures resume.
The women’s Under-20 national team is also scheduled to play Ethiopia in the second round of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) World Cup qualifiers.
– CAJ News