Zimbabwe face international stadium problems

Zimbabwe's National Sports Stadium in Harare is ruled unfit to host international matches.

The National Sports Stadium in Harare
The National Sports Stadium in Harare can no longer host Zimbabwe’s international matches

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has ruled that Zimbabwe’s National Sports Stadium in Harare no longer meets their standards to host international matches.

The only stadium approved by Caf is Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, 440km from Harare, which has been given temporary approval.

“Caf has even warned us that failure to upgrade the stadiums could mean that in future we will be forced to play our home matches in neighbouring countries,” said Zimbabwe Football Association spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela.

The National Sports Stadium has been used for all national team games of late, as Rufaro Stadium in Harare fell short of Caf standards last year.

Last month Caf inspected the National Sports Stadium, Barbourfields and Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane – the home ground of Zimbabwe’s Champions League representatives FC Platinum.

Mandava also failed the inspection, meaning that FC Platinum will continue to play their Champions League home games at Barbourfields, a journey of 180km.

Zimbabwe beat Mauritius 3-1 in an African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier at Barbourfields in August which is the only international the stadium has hosted in the past five years.

“We always have been appealing to owners of the stadiums and the local authorities to upgrade their stadiums, and we now have a crisis,” said Gwesela.

“We have been notified by Caf that major renovations will be needed for the National Sports Stadium NSS and Mandava for them to meet their standards.”

This development comes a week after Fifa president Gianni Infantino announced plans that football’s world governing body has to raise $1bn dollars to build at least one stadium meeting Fifa standards in every African country.

Zimbabwe’s next full international matches will be in March as the group stage of the 2022 World Cup qualifying gets underway.

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