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Our stadia almost done: Govt

ZIMBABWEAN authorities are happy with the progress on the refurbishment of the National Sports Stadium and are hopeful that the country will be able to host the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match against Algeria in November. BY HENRY MHARA Sports deputy minister Tinomudaishe Machakaire yesterday led a delegation that included officials from his ministry, the Sports and Recreation Commission and Zifa to tour the facility, which has been under renovations to meet Confederation of African Football (Caf) requirements on stadiums to host international matches. The National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields, another stadium which used to host international matches, were earlier this year condemned by Caf.Caf’s decision left the country facing the grim prospect of playing its home matches outside the country. Machakaire said the only grey areas were the bucket seats and turnstiles and was hopeful that the latter could be fixed before Caf’s next inspection. On the issue of bucket seats, he is praying that Caf might compromise since there are no spectators that will be allowed into the stadium for the match due to coronavirus. “We are very happy with the progress and the work that has been done so far,” Machakaire said. “The turf is in an immaculate state and the media facilities have been sorted. I can safely say that all the major things that were asked by Caf except for the bucket seats have been done. But since there won’t be fans attending the match, I’m sure that Caf will not be too strict on the issue of bucket seats. I don’t think the bucket seats are a necessity at the moment. I’m very hopeful that the match will be played here.” He, however, said he was not happy that the contractor wanted to import the bucket seats from China. “It’s something that I have raised with them. Personally, I don’t see the logic in procuring the bucket seats from China when we can get them locally. I noticed that there is a bay for the disabled which has already been fitted with the bucket seats which were procured locally. Why cant we do that for the rest of the stadium? “I’m sure there are locals who can make those buckets seats at a lower cost. Why can’t we promote our own by giving them the specifications, then ask them to come and demonstrate their products? Importing the seats will cost us a lot of money and time because there is shipping and duty which will need to be paid in foreign currency, which we don’t have. Locals should be considered. It’s part of empowerment,” Machakaire said. The procurement of the bucket seats has been delayed because of the restrictions on movement, while many businesses had been shut across the world because of coronavirus.Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said Caf was mum on when it would travel to the country for its next inspection of the stadia. The Warriors are scheduled to play Algeria in back-to-back Group G matches in November.Initially, the two matches were slated for March before the coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement. The two matches will be played between November 9 and 17

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