The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Confederation of African Football has temporarily approved the National Sports Stadium to host Zimbabwe 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
On Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Football Association announced that Caf had granted temporary approval for the biggest stadium in the country to host the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. However, Caf have encouraged Zimbabwe to address outstanding issues on the pitch condition, sanitary facilities as well as access controls. Fine will be imposed on Zifa should there be any breaches noted during games.
In April, Zifa were fined US$2 000 by Caf for lack of technical facilities at the National Sports Stadium. Zifa said in the letter of sanction, Caf stated that there were no fixed individual seats for spectators at the NSS while the facility was also not clean.
Zimbabwe are preparing to take on South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana in their quest to book a place at next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Black Rhinos Queens have been drawn in group B in the Caf Women’s Champions League Cosafa l Qualifier that will be played from 26 August 26 to 4 September. Black Rhinos Queens will square off against Buffaloes of Zambia and Namibia’s Tura Magic. In group A, there is Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, Lesotho Defence Force, Botswana’s Double Action and Manzini Wanderers of Eswatini.
The top two teams in each pool will advance to the semifinals in what is the first time that Cosafa are staging a club competition, with the victor to advance to the continental showpiece event that is set for later in the year.
It makes the stakes high beyond regional bragging rights and provides plenty to play for over the 10 days of competition.
Cosafa secretary general, Sue Destombes said this is a significant time for the Cosafa region since the women’s club football competition has been part of the plans for a while.
“This is a momentous day for us in the Cosafa region. This is something that we have had on our radar for a while, but it’s a great initiative from Caf to implement a Champions League competition and do the qualifiers at a zonal level. We have seven teams taking part in 2021, but by next year we hope to have all 14 of our member associations participating. This is just the start, but we are putting a peg in the ground,’’ Destombes said.
As soon as the action concludes in the club competition, it will be followed almost immediately by the Cosafa Women’s Championship that will take place from 9-19 September in Nelson Mandela Bay.