Stadia crisis: Is Magaya’s stadium project the solution?

For the umpteenth time, a circular from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has reminded football-loving Zimbabweans that the country does not have a stadium certified to host international matches.

The continental governing body released a circular with the list of stadiums in Africa, approved to host the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers, which will kick off on November 13.

Predictably, no stadium in Zimbabwe is on the list.

Zimbabwe, just like neighbours Zambia and 24 other African countries,  does not have a single stadium certified by CAF to host international matches —a setback which will force the Warriors to play their eagerly-awaited World Cup qualifiers Group C against Nigeria, outside the country.

The three stadiums which preciously hosted international matches in Zimbabwe —the National Sports Stadium and Rufaro in Harare and Babourfields in Bulawayo,  have all been condemned by CAF for not having set international standards.

Government is currently revamping the National Sports Stadium with the hope that the giant facility gets the green light from CAF soon.

Rufaro and Babourfields are no where near what is expected of stadiums by the continental governing body.

That said, Prophet Walter Magaya’s stadium project might provide a temporary panacea to the stadia crisis, if his words are anything to go by.

The Yadah Football Club founder and owner recently embarked on the construction of a 40 000 seater stadium at Yadah Hotel in Waterfalls.

The facility, according to Prophet Magaya, is a replica of English Championship side Swansea Stadium in South Wales.

Construction of the stadium, which will be used for Premier Soccer League games,  started last month and is fast-moving.

Prophet Magaya described the project as a ‘game changer’  in Harare, as the capital currently does not have any stadium certified to host even Premier Soccer League matches —a setback which has resulted in awkward things in the country’s top-flight, like Sunday’s ‘Battle of Zimbabwe’ between old foes Dynamos and Highlanders at Babourfields,  which will see DeMbare being the home team on enemy territory.

The Heart Stadium —the facility being constructed at lightening fast pace at Yadah Hotel, is set to be commissioned this year, according to Prophet Magaya.

He says he will open the first phase of the project fitted with 5000 bucket seats, which will be a first in Zimbabwe,  considering no stadium in the country has that amount of bucket seats.

The facility has a sophisticated underground drainage for a suspended pitch —another first in Zimbabwe.

Yadah have been working hand in glove with the ZIFA First Instance Board (FIB), getting guidance from the latter to make the facility, which will ultimately accommodate 40 000 people, a morden stadium.

“We are starting with a 5 000-seater, we will then expand it to a 15 000-seater. But the ultimate aim is to make it a 40 000-seater,” said Prophet Magaya.

“We will also allow other clubs to use the stadium. We want to make it a CAF standard ground but initially we will have to make sure the ground can host domestic top-flight matches. “We are working 24-hours a day so that we can commission the stadium as soon as possible. We have followed all due process,” he added.

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