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AFCON infrastructure lessons for Zimbabwe

AFCON infrastructure lessons for Zimbabwe

Story by Anashe Murombedzi

FORMER footballers have called on responsible authorities to learn from Cote d’Ivoire, after the West African nation showcased some of the best football stadiums on the continent during the just ended African Cup of Nations tournament.

This comes at a time when Zimbabwe has no football stadia to host international matches after all the local match venues failed to meet the minimum standards.

Played across six cities in Cote d’Ivoire, the delayed 2023 AFCON tournament was not just at exhibition of footballing talent, but also a showcase of the investment that country has made towards sporting infrastructure.

The Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan was the biggest with the capacity of 60,000 seats, followed by the 40 000 seater Bouaké Peace Stadium.

The other match venues for the tournament were: Félix Houphouët-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo, Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro, andLaurent Pokou Stadium in San Pédro.

This has attracted the attention of former footballers who believe Zimbabwe needs to take a leaf from the West African nation, adding that the country has had enough of the humiliation of hosting international matches away from home as was the case in November last year when the Warriors played their World Cup qualifier against Nigeria in Rwanda.

“These are the lessons that we should learn as Zimbabwe, that as long as we organise well and have enough or good infrastructure everything goes well. Cote d’Ivoire are not the richest in the world but they managed to come up with six grand stadiums to host the AFCON and the standard of play was also influenced by the quality of the pitch even the atmosphere, the stands was brilliant and this is what we should learn to do and see the biggest picture that sport unites people. All we are lacking is organised skills, we need that,” said Former Warriors and CAPS United striker, Alouis Bunjira.

“We have seen beautiful stadiums in Cote d’Ivoire in the just ended AFCON tournament, i think as the hosts they are proud and it also improves tourism, revenue with so many people coming and as a country they really gained,” noted Former Dynamos Captain, Justice Mujabvi.

The Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Dr Kirsty Coventry last week said the National Sports Stadium will be ready to host international matches by 30 April this year.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Football Association Normalisation Committee has announced the appointment of Jethro Hunidzarira as the association’s new technical director.

Hunidzarira, who is taking over from Wilson Mutekede who parted ways with the local football mother body four months ago, is aware of the task that lies ahead.

“This will give us good quality of players because if you look at the players that we have now, the crew that went to the AFCON we can follow their track from the youth where they were playing up to where they are in the senior so we need to bring back this quality which comes from the development of the grassroots,” he said.

Hunidzarira is not new on the football scene after turning out for Zimbabwe Saints and is a holder of a CAF A coaching licence.