Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
PROPHET Walter Magaya must be wondering why the authorities, who manage the National Sports Stadium, rejected his offer to provide equipment and manpower, free of charge, to fix the bumpy surface earlier this year.
George Chigova still carries the scars of the bad injury he sustained, after slipping on the uneven pitch at the giant stadium, while playing for the Warriors in a 2019 AFCON qualifier against the Democratic Republic of Congo on October 16, last year.
Edmore Sibanda, who replaced him in that match, kept goal for the Warriors in the opening 2019 Nations Cup finals match against hosts Egypt but was forced out, by injury, before the end of that game.
The Warriors team management say Sibanda activated an injury he had also suffered at the giant stadium while serving his country in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.
Reports have also emerged that a number of Warriors boldly told the team’s management, ahead of the 2012 Nations Cup qualifier against Botswana last month, they were risking their careers by continuing to play at the National Sports Stadium because of the poor state of the pitch.
‘‘I think. so far, what has not mentioned in this whole story about the National Sports Stadium is the injuries which our players have suffered while representing their country whenever they play there,’’ Warriors team manager, Wellington Mpandare, told The Herald.
‘‘It’s easy to forget that George Chigova was injured when he slipped because of an uneven surface at the same stadium when we were fighting for a place at the last AFCON finals.
‘‘He is not the only one who has suffered injuries because the players have always been complaining that the uneven pitch makes it difficult for them to play football and, worse still, to avoid injuries.
‘‘We have made representation to the stadium authorities about these issues, again and again, but we have not received any positive response.’’
The National Sports Stadium was barred by CAF from hosting international matches with the continental football governing body saying the giant facility didn’t meet the minimum requirements for such assignments.
With the giant stadium being the preferred home for the Warriors, this means the senior national team will have to play their matches at Barbourfields in Bulawayo next March, should renovations, which were singled out by CAF, not be carried out by then.
However, although Barbourfields just passed the test, for now, the CAF inspectors also warned that some renovations should also be done there as quickly as possible.
In the event the Bulawayo ground is also barred from hosting international matches, the Warriors, and other representative national teams, could be forced to host opponents in other countries.
The uneven state of the National Sports Stadium pitch was one of the issues which CAF inspectors raised and, ironically, in March this year, Prophet Magaya rolled out his machinery, which he used to build his stadium at his Yadah Hotel, to work on flattening the pitch at the giant stadium.
However, the stadium management refused to allow the heavy duty equipment to be used to improve the state of the bumpy pitch.
Two years ago, Magaya proposed a deal to the Chitungwiza Town Council to renovate Chibuku Stadium which he wanted to use as a home ground for his Premiership side Yadah Stars.
However, the Chitungwiza Town Council officials said they were not ready to give Yadah Stars a long lease, which the investor wanted, and the deal collapsed.
“The terms of agreement that we were seeking was not what the Chitungwiza officials were prepared to offer us and given the investment that we had earmarked for the stadium, we felt that we were not being given a fair deal,’’ Magaya told The Herald back then.
“We were ready to invest a lot into the stadium’s facelift and, for me, personally, it would have been a good homecoming because I’m from Chitungwiza and I have always had this special attachment with the town.
“I went to high school which is just a stone’s throw from the stadium and we used to play at Chibuku and it was our home and therefore, renovating it was just something I have always felt I should do.’’
Two years later, Chibuku remains a sorry sight.