Zimbabwe on Tuesday suffered a major blow when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned all stadia from hosting international matches, citing they did not meet its standards.
FAPost’s correspondent Mthokozisi Dube looks at some of the reasons why the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) should consider hosting its 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Algeria at the end of March in South Africa.
Warriors will be comfortable
The bulk of Warriors players ply their trade in South Africa and will be pretty much at “home” in any local stadium.
Khama Billiart (Kaizer Chiefs), goalkeepers George Chigova (Polokwane City) and Elvis Chipezeze (Baroka FC), Divine Lunga and Danny Phiri (Golden Arrows), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits) and Kuda Mahachi (SuperSport) are all familiar with local stadiums. Even some of the Warriors’ foreign-based stars like Knowledge Musona, Teenage Hadebe and Marshall Munetsi have previously played in South Africa and will be fairly comfortable on local turf.
Players will fight to impress scouts
For any Zimbabwean footballer, a move to South Africa is seen as a gateway to Europe and hosting the game in Gauteng means agents and clubs can scout. In turn, the players will be eager to impress and get contracts with South African Clubs. Those already playing in the ABSA Premiership would want to look good in front of their employers.
Zim fans will catch a glimpse of their National Team
There is a significant population of Zimbabweans in South Africa, making up the largest group of migrants. Estimates of their numbers in Gauteng alone run into thousands. The Warriors will still have a great “home crowd” in any Gauteng stadium. It will also be a rare chance for Zimbabweans residing in South Africa to catch a glimpse of their national team.
Ease of travel
Johannesburg is easily accessible with direct flights from either Harare or Bulawayo. In fact, using any other country would mean flying to Johannesburg first before connecting to the host city. Besides Lusaka, using Emirates and Kenya Airways, there is no way one can fly from one SADC country to another without going via Johannesburg. Gauteng will equally be convenient for players flying in from Europe. For fans wanting to travel, there are regular buses traveling between Johannesburg and Zimbabwe’s two biggest cities – Harare and Bulawayo.
Perfect ticketing system
South Africa’s electronic ticketing system is, by far, the best in the region and ZIFA would be assured no ticket sales will go unaccounted. Electronic tickets will be more convenient for fans as they can be purchased anytime and anywhere, making it a lot easier. ZIFA will also get exposed to how SAFA runs things when it comes to hosting international matches. That kind of exposure will go a long way for bungling ZIFA.
Who knows? Supersport may take interest in the match and ZIFA can make money from TV and marketing as they could sell advertising space to companies in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
By Mthokozisi Dube