Senior Sports Reporter
THE ZIFA grounds inspection committee need to beat a deadline, this weekend, in the efforts to persuade CAF to reverse their ban on the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields.
The First Instance Body, led by former ZIFA board member, Piraishe Mabhena, last week conducted their final round of inspections at the venues.
This followed renovations, recommended by CAF, before Zimbabwe could be given the green light to host high-profile international football matches.
ZIFA were given until this Sunday by CAF to hand in their reports.
These reports will be used by the continental football authorities to evaluate progress, before a CAF grounds inspection team is dispatched to Zimbabwe, to run the rule over the venues.
“We are done with the inspections at the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields and we have compiled a report that is going to be sent to CAF,’’ said Mabhena.
“I will not go into detail about the report but a lot of work has been put into the renovations.
“The procedure is that we need to send the report to CAF, they will look at it and then send their own inspection team that will make an independent judgment.
“We were actually supposed to have sent the report today (yesterday), but there is some documentation that we have been waiting for from the Government.
“Still, there is no need to panic because we have a 20 September deadline and I am confident we will dispatch the report before that date.”
The country’s two major stadia, the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields, were earlier this year banned from hosting international matches by CAF after they failed to meet minimum requirements.
The National Sports Stadium is needed to host the AFCON qualifier against Algeria in November.
Initially, ZIFA were directed by CAF to look for alternative venue, and had settled for South Africa for the match, which had been set for March.
However, Government, through the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, have covered significant ground in renovating the giant stadium.
The playing surface has been transformed into a green carpet while work has also been carried out in providing a facelift to the medical, changing and anti-doping rooms.
A fully-furnished media centre, with a capacity of 54 people, has been installed.
There is also a press conference room while ablution, and drainage facilities, have all been improved.
The Warriors are set to face Algeria in back-to-back encounters in November.
CAF president Ahmad Ahmad recently urged the Zimbabwean authorities to work speedily on the country’s football stadia to avoid the embarrassment of representative sides playing their home matches on foreign soil. Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Culture, Kirsty Coventry, this week reassured the nation the Government was working around the clock to make the National Sports Stadium meet the minimum CAF standards to host international matches.