The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
ZIFA has been urged to look on the bright and use the opportunity presented by the banning of the National Sports Stadium by Caf to bring the next Caf sanctioned Warriors to Bulawayo.
Former Zifa vice president, Omega Sibanda said the ban imposed by Caf is a blessing in disguise for the city as it should push Zifa to bring the next Warriors match to Barbourfields.
He said it was critical for the Warriors to play all over the country but acknowledged infrastructure was a hindrance in some areas.
Zifa was sanctioned by the Caf Disciplinary Board last week in terms of Caf Statutes and Regulations and Articles 82, 83.1 and 151 of the Caf Disciplinary Code for crowd trouble that took place at the giant stadium in March.
Caf barred Zifa from using the NSS for the next two official home matches following the chaos that led to loss of life and injuries at the giant stadium, however, one match from the sanctions has been suspended in the event that a similar incident does not occur during the next 12 months.
“I think the ruling should give Zifa some time to introspect and see how they can ensure incident free games. It is also an opportunity to bring the Warriors to Bulawayo and also begin a process of spreading national teams’ games to all parts of the country.
“During my tenure we brought Cosafa to Bulawayo as a way of spreading the games but obviously the challenge is infrastructure as most stadiums do not meet the standards to host matches of such magnitude,” said Sibanda.
He said it was critical for Zifa to introspect on the crowd trouble that took place at the NSS and led to loss of life adding flawless organisation was critical for such games.
Sibanda said national teams should rotate venues to give all football fans across the country the chance to see their stars in action instead of only hearing them over the radio.
“It is also an opportunity for Government and local authorities to start renovating sporting infrastructure all over the country to ensure sports tourism is promoted as it cannot take place without the requisite stadiums. Tourist resorts such as Victoria Falls and Kariba need stadiums that meet international standard.
“Companies also need to partner local authorities and build or renovate stadiums in exchange for naming rights and under build operate transfer modalities,” he said.
Barbourfields and Mandava are the other two stadiums have been approved by Caf to host international matches. Glitches on Zifa’s electronic ticketing system saw fans pushing to gain entry into the stadium with kickoff a few minutes away in the final Afcon qualifier on March 24 against Congo-Brazzaville leading to the death of one supporter, Egna Nyamadzawo, and injuries to several others.