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Football matters

Sinqobile Tessa
OUT OF ORDER: The 60, 000 capacity National Stadium (Pic: BBC)

Warriors swimming against the tide

It has been a case of ‘more talk and no action’ by those in authority with regards to the country’s National Sports stadium.

The belief or understanding is that politicians are not the least bit bothered by sports related issues hence anything to do with the latter is never a priority. I must say, I fully agree with this school of thought.

When the current Sports Minister, Kirsty Coventry was appointed into office in 2017, many gave the appointment a thumbs up mainly because she was a sports personality – and not only that, her skin color also mattered!

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NO SPLASH: Coventry is finding the going tough (Pic: Nehando Radio)

‘A white person’ will make things work, some said.

Sadly, that has not been the case as the former swimmer, a three-time Olympic medalist and World Champion, has not achieved much since she came into office.

Many had hoped that by now, the National Sports Stadium would have been fixed in time for World Cup qualifiers but alas, there is still no stadium to talk about.

Coventry, 40, made her name in the backstroke and it seems sports in the country is also being pushed back!

Of course she can’t be entirely blamed for this. It’s the powers that be that are not giving such issues top priority.

On Sunday, the country’s national team played its World Cup qualifier against Nigeria in Rwanda instead of on home ground because our stadium is way below the required standards.

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ON FOREIGN SOIL: Zimbabwe playing against Nigeria in Rwanda (Pic: The Namibian)

Incidentally, ‘The Warriors’ battled to a 1-1 draw with Nigeria, picking up their second point in a row after drawing 0-0 with Rwanda four days earlier.

It’s just very embarrassing and unfortunate that such a match had to be played so far away simple because some people in those high offices don’t see the need of having a world class sports stadium.

I must say, I am also of the view that countries which cannot host their home games in the World Cup qualifiers should be dealt with harshly.

Zimbabwe is one of the 17 African nations that have been banned by CAF from playing homes games in the on-going 2026 WC qualifiers because of sub-standard stadiums.

South Africa’s national team coach, Hugo Broos told local media that CAF should set a deadline for the countries to improve their stadiums or risk been excluded from the qualifiers for both the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

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If that is the only way to spring Zimbabwean authorities into action, then let it be so otherwise we will still be talking about out poor stadium 20 years from now.

Located in the capital, Harare, the country’s 60, 000 seater National Stadium was built by the Chinese in 1987 and has been disintegrating over the years.

It currently has no proper running water and players have to use buckets instead of showers to freshen up before matches. There is also poor drainage in toilets and sinks, so you can imagine the state of the toilets after an event…pathetic! Zimbabwe’s next ‘home’ game is scheduled for June 2024 against Lesotho, it would be a miracle if the National Stadium was up to scratch by then!

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