The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda and Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporters
ZIFA have until tomorrow to inform the Confederation of African Football (Caf) if they wish to have Barbourfields Stadium re-inspected or provide the continental body with a venue outside the country for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match against Algeria scheduled for the end of this month.
Xolisani Gwesela, the Zifa communications and competitions manager said the initial deadline was last Thursday but they had asked for an extension from Caf up to Monday to provide a way forward.
“The Caf deadline was 27 February, we asked for extension up to Monday, we will tell them the way forward, that is to re-inspect our facilities or give them an alternative venue,’’ Gwesela said.
Indications are that Bulawayo City Council are willing to attend to Barbourfields Stadium with the only challenge being that of resources.
“They (BCC) have demonstrated commitment to fix Barbourfields Stadium, we need to put our heads together to solve this crisis.”
Zifa are said to be looking for an alternative venue in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia for the match to be played on 29 March. BCC have said they have the funds and have already begun rehabilitating the city’s biggest stadium, Barbourfields, to reach standards set by Caf.
The rehabilitation work, according to the local authority’s senior public relations officer, Nesisa Mpofu will include the floodlights maintenance, signage, dressing rooms, spectator seats, mixed zones, media rooms, parking among other aspects. This comes in the backdrop of events that transpired last week which saw the continental football governing body reportedly banning the stadium from hosting international matches just a month before BF was due to host a Caf Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the Warriors and Algeria.
Mpofu revealed that the local authority had long been attending to the issues raised by Caf, noting that they were being guided by the local authority’s vision of ensuring that they attend to all service delivery aspects inclusive of the stadia which are community infrastructure.
“The City of Bulawayo budgeted for the maintenance of the stadium to attend to the issues raised by Caf. We anticipate that all things being equal we should be able to sustain the repairs and maintenance of the stadium. Council will also welcome any funding from its partners to complement its efforts. Some of the issues being attended to include the floodlights maintenance, signage, dressing rooms, spectator seats, mixed zones, media rooms, parking among other aspects,” said Mpofu.
The council spokesperson further reiterated that BCC has over the years been working to ensure that the stadium meets the required standard for hosting of local and international games. Pertaining to the stadium’s floodlights, she revealed that the local authority was working to ensure that the recommended LUX light intensity is reached and maintained.
“While Barbourfields was constructed in the 1950s we have been having constant upgrades at the stadium to meet the requirements for hosting regional and international games as well as Caf requirements. We believe that we will have significantly attended to most of the matters raised by the time Caf inspectors visit the stadium again.
“BCC is committed to being a leading, smart and transformative city by 2024. The city’s vision guides its operations in ensuring that we attend to all service delivery aspects inclusive of the stadia which are community infrastructure. The city has also been having periodic infrastructure maintenance of the stadia since its construction,” she said.