FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza believes football fans can fully celebrate the lifting of FIFA’s suspension on Zimbabwe, once it has been confirmed that national teams will play home games in the country.
On Monday, FIFA lifted Zimbabwe’s suspension and appointed a four-member normalisation committee to run the day to day affairs of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) until at least June next year.
The development comes at a time when Zimbabwe has no stadium fit to host international matches as the biggest facility in the country —the National Sports Stadium —was flagged down by CAF in November 2021 for not having set international standards.
Mapeza —who was the last national team coach before the suspension when he took to the Warriors to the 2021 Afcon finals in Cameroon —reckons Zimbabwe’s long-awaited return to the international community cannot be fully celebrated as long as there is no assurance that national team games will be played in the country.
“I’m still worried if you look at our stadiums issue at the moment. I understand the games will be played in November,” Mapeza said ahead of his side’s Castle Lager Premier Soccer League game against Yadah at Mandava Stadium tomorrow.
“I was reading the paper today (yesterday) and our Minister of Sport (Kirsty Coventry) said maybe within the next three or four weeks, the National Sports Stadium will be done.
“So it means maybe the bucket seats will be there because it will be unfortunate for us to get the reprieve but we end up relocating to South Africa to play our World Cup qualifiers there.
“People want to watch football, look at the support the cricket team was getting. We also need that type of support in our football.
“The stadia issue needs to be fixed first then maybe we can start saying: “We are back in it now.” But for the time being, it’s still a 50-50 situation. We are in, but where are we going to play the football?
“But apart from that, I think everybody is happy, we are all excited that we have been given the reprieve and we just hope everything goes well for us,” added Mapeza.
The former Zimbabwe captain could not be drawn into discussing the possibility of him becoming the next Warriors coach.
“That will be a story for another day,” said Mapeza.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe were placed in Group C in the 2026 FIFA World Cup African qualifiers in the draw held yesterday.
The Warriors will compete for a place at the global extravaganza with Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Rwanda and Lesotho.
African teams were placed in nine groups and the group winners will automatically qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be co-hosted by the United States and Mexico.