from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare
HARARE – ZIMBABWE will prioritise the refurbishment of stadia now that the coronavirus (COVID-19) scourge is declining.

This is also in preparation for the resumption of international matches.
Renovations were halted two months ago after workers deployed at the condemned facilities tested positive of the virus.

“We are now finalising the arrangements to return to work,” said Michael Chideme, spokesperson of the City of Harare.

The municipality is refurbishing the Gwanzura (30, 000 capacity) and Rufaro Stadiums (40, 000 capacity).

“We will try to expedite the processes because the facilities could be needed anytime,” Chideme said.

Zimbabwe has confirmed more than 7 000 cases of the global pandemic, including 225 deaths.

Gwanzura and Rufaro are among stadia that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned from hosting matches at the beginning of the year.

The ban coincided with the outbreak of COVID-19 and the embargo on football matches.

The Barbourfields (38, 000) and National Sports Stadium (60, 000) are other facilities that are banned from hosting matches.

This follows years of neglect by the government.

At the time of the ban, Zimbabwe was supposed to host African defending champions, Algeria, in an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The match was eventually scheduled for the Orlando Stadium in neighbouring South Africa.

It would have been an embarrassment for the Zimbabwean government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the beleaguered Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) had the home match been moved to neighbouring countries due to lack of facility.

– CAJ News