Zifa divided over Algeria tie venue

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Snodia Mikiri, Sports Reporter

DIVISIONS have emerged at Zifa with conflicting statements over the venue for the home AFCON 2021 qualifier against champions, Algeria.

When CAF blacklisted Zimbabwe’s venues for failing to meet laid down standards, there was a suggestion that the match be played in a neighbouring country and South Africa emerged as the preferred option.

However, government immediately dispatched a strong team to attend to CAF’s concerns in time for the month end clash and work is currently being carried out at the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields.

Renovations are also being undertaken at Rufaro, Gwanzura and Sakubva although the venues are not on the Warriors’ immediate plans.

Twice over the last five days, Zifa officials have told the media that CAF have rejected Zimbabwe’s appeal to re-inspect the renovated venues. However, the said CAF letters have NOT been availed to the public.

Now amid efforts by government and other stakeholders including current Cosafa president, Philip Chiyangwa to get a CAF review, Zifa yesterday officially announced that a decision has not yet been reached concerning the venue for the March 31 game.

“The Zimbabwe Football Association has noted with concern, various speculative and inaccurate media reports regarding the venue of the Zimbabwe vs Algeria match.

“ZIFA is still engaging CAF on the matter and no binding decision has been arrived at yet.

“We appeal to the football fraternity to be patient as the engagement goes on; hoping that CAF will grant us our sovereignty to play home matches in Zimbabwe.

“ZIFA is grateful to the government and all other stakeholders for the great strides made since the ban to ensure that stadiums are upgraded to meet international standards,” reads the statement by ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela.