Zim’s Afcon bid faces SA challenge

ZIMBABWE’S hopes of hosting the 2015 African Cup of Nations finals face a major challenge after neighbours South Africa expressed interest in hosting the tournament the same year.

Zimbabwe football authorities have already made their intentions known to the Confederation of African Football (Caf), with government expressing full support for the idea.

It has not yet been established which other countries on the continent are competing with Zimbabwe for the right to host the biennial football showcase in 2015, but South Africa’s intervention alone will cast doubt over Zimbabwe’s prospects.

Having successfully hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Zimbabwe’s southern African neighbour has everything in place to host the 16 team continental finals.

Zimbabwe, on the other hand, was looking to build two more stadiums in cities other than Harare and Bulawayo ahead of the third attempt at hosting the finals after failing in 2000 and 2004 respectively.

South African Football Association (Safa) President Kirsten Nematandani told The Sowetan newspaper: “Yes, we have put a request to the Confederation of African Football. We are still (enjoying) the success of the World Cup and we hope it will be good for us in our bid to host the African Nations Cup.

“There will be no question of infrastructure because it is here, accommodation is here. There will be no question of transport because it is here. World-class stadiums are here too. We have everything,” said Nematandani.

The next tournament in 2012 will be hosted jointly by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, followed by Libya in 2013 — when the tournament will be moved for the first time to odd years to avoid a clash with future Fifa World Cups.

Earlier this month, Education, Sport and Culture minister David Coltart announced that the government was looking at building two stadiums for the hosting of the 2015 tournament.

“As government we are in the process of facilitating for the hosting of the 2015 Nations Cup event,” said Coltart.
“We need to build two more stadiums. You think we cannot do that between now and then? It’s possible we can do that,” he further declared.
CAF requires that a hosting country should have at least four stadiums in four different cities.

Already Zimbabwe has the National Sports Stadium, Rufaro stadium (both in Harare) and Bulawayo’s Barbourfields stadium.
This would mean the other two stadiums will have to be built in cities other than these two with Mutare, Masvingo and Gweru being more likely to benefit.

The host country is given at least four years to prepare for the tournament and at this stage South Africa, miles ahead of Zimbabwe in terms of preparedness, will be clear favourites.— Staff Writer.

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