Eswatini could turn to Mbombela Stadium for home tie

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Eswatini Football Association (EFA) may be forced to turn to Mbombela Stadium for their upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Guinea Bissau after Caf delisted the country’s last available stadium – Mavuso Sports Center.

Eswatini has just about 24 hours to submit an alternative stadium. Caf acting general secretary Abdelmounaim Bah confirmed the setback on Monday after receiving a stadium report about the facility.

“With reference to the Caf circular dated February 2, 2021, related to the upcoming Afcon qualifiers, we confirm the receipt of the stadium report, photo and video evidence of Mavuso Stadium. Unfortunately, based on the report, we regret to inform you that Mavuso Stadium does not meet the Caf stadium requirements and consequently will not be available for the Afcon qualifiers.

“The pitch is in very poor condition. Overall pitch condition must be improved, and the surface must be levelled, green and marked clearly in white. The current dressing rooms are not up to the required standard. The team’s dressing rooms must be of high-quality standard with appropriate modern seats and lockers,” part of Caf’s communiqué reads.

Caf also highlighted that other facilities in the stadium are not up to their standard and the stadium needed to be fully modernized to meet the international standard requirements.

“Therefore, and in light of the unavailability of other Caf-approved stadiums for this type of competition in your country, a decision has been taken not to allow your FA to play the upcoming match in your territory hence you will have to select an approved stadium in countries of other Caf member associations.”

Eswatini is scheduled to face the ‘African Wild Dogs’ of Guinea Bissau in an Afcon qualifier match on March 23, before taking on the ‘Teranga Lions’ of Senegal in the last AFCON qualifier 2022 away in Dakar on March 30.

Sihlangu lost the first leg tie against the Baciro Cande-coached outfit 3-0 on November 13, 2019 at the Estadio Nacional 24 de Setembro in Bissau. Caf has highlighted three areas as the reason for denying the country the game hosting rights.

EFA also acknowledged the CAF ban through their statement on Monday.

It is now almost prudent that Sihlangu will have to play home away from home with Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit being one of the options among several stadiums in South Africa.

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By Noel Munzabwa

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