Thursday, August 5, 2021

CAF yet to take a decision on Obed Itani Chilume Stadium

Botswana hangs on a tight rope as it waits for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to make a decision on the suitability of the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium to host continental games.

CAF has been on savage mode and disqualifying stadiums across the continent ahead of the qualifiers for the upcoming 33rd edition of the AFCON 2021 due to be hosted by Cameron in November.

This comes after CAF declared that they want quality stadiums for they are fundamental to the development and progress of African football.

Botswana will be taking on Zimbabwe on the 25th of this month at the Obed Itani Chilume Stadium for their AFCON qualifier. But before then, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has a big task before them to make sure that the stadium is approved to host international games or they may be slapped with a ban.

This ban, will force Botswana or any country that has followed suit to play all their home games in a foreign stadium.

A close source to Botswana Football Association (BFA) pointed out that Obed Itani Chilume Stadium has been highly eyed by CAF. Of recent it has been the mother of all international games and due to this, it is under examination to be approved by CAF.

As a matter of fact, the pitch is not up to the required standard. The grass is brown and not green as expected by CAF, and this is one of the reasons some countries are facing a ban.

However, the pitch is still under observation to examine if it is also level including the visibility of the white markings on the pitch.

According to Jimmy George, football analyst, the ban could be both good and bad for the country.

“It will be a welcome decision for us to take facility management seriously. But I have a feeling we will not be disqualified,” he said.

Pointing that that CAF standards are not so strict they have set very low standards for itself particularly to accommodate all 56 countries under them.

Even with this, are we ready as a country for the Botswana Flag to be raised in a foreign land as our home country for international games?

Few African countries have been slammed with bans particularly due to poor infrastructure. The agonizing part regarding the CAF ban’s is restricting countries from staging any (international matches instead of foreign) games until all stadiums banned are up to standard.

28th February, Sierra Leone’s Decrepit National Stadium was banned, the country is due to host Benin in their next home (match) on the 30th of March.  The Leone Stars were warned about their pitch last year by CAF after their goalless draw against Nigeria exposed the reckless and fragile state of their stadium.

Mavuso Sport Center of Eswatini followed suit receiving a letter of the stadium being banned. According to Times of Swaziland, the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) received a letter after their report on the stadium, but unfortunately the stadium did not meet the CAF stadium requirements. Due to this, the stadium will not be availed for the AFCON qualifiers.

Botswana’s neighboring country and their clash mates for the AFCON qualifiers, Zimbabwe have been slapped with a ban as well. This decision followed a November inspection by CAF which concluded that Zimbabwe stadiums “did not meet required standards” this is according to Africanews.com.

Just like all banned countries Zimbabwe might take on Algeria in a foreign stadium, somewhere in South Africa.

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