Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
DESPITE progress being affected by the national lockdown, Government has assured the nation it’s expecting to meet the June deadline for football stadia renovations.
The Government has been working on renovations at the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields, which were both condemned by CAF, and banned from hosting international football matches.
FIFA inspectors have also said the Warriors cannot play matches at each of the two stadia but, to show some progress is being made, opened the two facilities to be used by the national women and youth football teams.
However, the world football governing body have scrapped the June international matches, where CAF expected to stage some 2021 AFCON finals, giving local authorities more time to fix the stadia.
The Warriors had been asked to find alternative home ground for their 2021 AFCON qualifier against Algeria which should have been played last month.
Yesterday, Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister Tino Machakaire said they were confident they will have everything in place by June.
Inspectors are set to return to this country either in June or July.
‘‘The renovations at the National Sports Stadium are going on very well. We are addressing all the areas which were flagged by the Confederation of African Football’s grounds committee,’’ Machakaire said.
‘‘The issue is we have reduced our staff due to the national lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.’’
‘‘We have been trying very hard to meet our deadlines, unfortunately the COVID-19 scourge meant we had to revise them along the way.’’
‘‘Hopefully, by June, we would be talking about something very positive. We have deployed essential staff, which is working round the clock to see to it that the stadium is fine.’’
‘‘At the same time, we are also supporting the renovations of Barbourfields,’’ said Machakaire.
ZIFA had a busy calendar before the coronavirus outbreak forced football to be halted across the globe. Zimbabwe were scheduled to face Algeria in an AFCON double-header last month before going to Cameroon for the CHAN finals this month.
The CHAN finals have since been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Mighty Warriors were also supposed to start their Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers this week.
The Young Mighty Warriors could also have played their Under-20 World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia last month.
The Warriors’ World Cup qualifiers were expected to start in the last quarter of the year.
ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said they will continue to abide by the FIFA and CAF directives.
“As members of both FIFA and CAF, we will abide by their directives. We will ensure the safety of players, fans, officials and everyone involved in football is guaranteed first before any competition.
‘‘In the era of Covid-19 we encourage everyone to stay safe and healthy. ‘‘
‘‘Above all stay at home and follow guidelines and directives from World Health Organisation and our Government. May God bless you all,’’ said Gwesela.