The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has given Zimbabwe a temporary reprieve by allowing it host a crucial 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier fixture against Algeria despite a ban on the country’s stadia.
Caf early this year banned Zimbabwe from hosting international matches because the southern African country’s stadiums were dilapidated.
The venues did not have press bays, had substandard changing rooms and lacked bucket seats, which are all a requirement under the continental football body’s regulations.
On Tuesday, Caf, however, said the Zimbabwe versus Algeria match on November 11 will be played at the National Sports Stadium (NSS) in Harare.
The NSS is the biggest football stadium in Zimbabwe and was banned from hosting international matches alongside Barbourfields Stadium, which is the alternative venue for international matches.
Felton Kamambo, the Zimbabwe Football Association president, said the suspension of the ban came as a huge relief.
Zimbabwe was facing the prospect of playing its home fixtures in neighbouring countries.
“This is great news and we obviously welcome the development because it means Caf have confidence in us,” Kamambo said.
“There was also the issue of costs if we played away from home.”
Sports minister Kirsty Coventry said the refurbishment of the stadia was almost complete.
“Our national stadiums have been renovated, that is the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields,” Coventry said.
“We are only left with two outstanding issues at the National Sports Stadium, that is the procurement of bucket seats and the electronic ticketing, which is now being procured through the tendering process.”
Fans will not be allowed into the stadium for Zimbabwe’s clash against Algeria due to Covid-19 and this could have informed Caf’s decision to lift the suspension.
Algeria leads Group H with six points after two matches in the qualifiers and is followed by Zimbabwe, which has four points. Other countries in the group are Botswana and Zambia.