Heartbreak for Zimbabwe’s Warriors: World Cup Dreams Shattered as Home Ground Snatched Away
Zimbabwe’s national football team(Warriors), will be compelled to play their 2026 World Cup home qualifiers outside the country. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has excluded the National Sports Stadium (NSS) from the list of pre-approved stadiums for the qualifiers starting in November.
Renovations Promised, But Stadium Falls Short
Former Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry previously assured that the NSS renovations would be expedited to ensure home games could be played there. However, Caf’s decision indicates that the upgrades have not met the necessary standards.
Group C Qualifiers and Travel Plans
Zimbabwe finds itself in Group C alongside Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Rwanda, and Lesotho. The Warriors will kick off their campaign away in Rwanda on November 13. A week later, they are scheduled to host Nigeria, but the match will be played outside Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Football Association’s normalization committee faces the task of securing a venue for the Nigeria match. Sources suggest that Botswana and South Africa are the two potential options under consideration.
Caf’s Venue Submission Deadline
Caf has given member associations until Friday to submit the venues for match days 1 and 2. This means Zimbabwe has a limited timeframe to secure a suitable venue for hosting Nigeria.
Zimbabwe, along with Benin and Lesotho, is among the 24 Caf member countries without an approved stadium for international matches. The NSS, as well as other local stadiums, has faced deterioration and failed to meet Caf and Fifa’s standards.
Despite earlier assurances by Coventry, little progress has been made to renovate the NSS, reported newsday. The stadium remains closed due to problems with the water reticulation system, resulting in inadequate toilet and ablution facilities.