ZIFA have rejected a crazy offer from Algeria to have the Warriors’ home 2021 AFCON qualifier against the Desert Foxes played in Algiers.
The Warriors take on the African champions away on November 12 before the two sides meet at the National Sports Stadium four days later.
But, with logistical challenges, brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe, Algeria proposed to host both legs.
The North Africans said they would foot Zimbabwe’s accommodation and other related costs.
However, ZIFA, who are celebrating the decision by CAF, to give the National Sports Stadium the greenlight to host high-profile international matches, refused to take the proposal and, instead, presented a counter-offer to the Algerians.
The country’s biggest sporting facility was banned from hosting international matches early this year after CAF inspectors flagged a number of issues at the venue.
The continent’s football governing body were unhappy with uneven turf, poor ablution facilities, the poor drainage system and the lack of a properly equipped media centre and rooms.
They also wanted bucket seats to be installed at the giant stadium, fully-equipped medical rooms, disability centre and doping rooms.
But, the Government, through the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation acted swiftly, pouring significant resources, taking advantage of the lull in football activities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, to give the stadium a massive facelift.
CAF decided to give Zimbabwe a temporary reprieve and will allow the stadium to be used for the AFCON qualifier between the Warriors and the Desert Foxes.
There will be no spectators during the game.
ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, revealed the association were given the offer by the Algerians to consider having both matches played in Algiers this month.
“We officially requested to use the same plane with the Algerians, after our first leg tie with them next week but, unfortunately, their Government plane cannot be used by non-Algerians,’’ said Kamambo.
“We will, instead, charter a flight for the mission.
“Then, the Algerians proposed to us to have both legs of the back-to-back fixtures played on their soil, with them paying for our accommodation.
“But, we have refused to take that offer. We cannot sell our soul. Look, the country is currently in a celebratory mood after the lifting of that ban of the National Sports Stadium.
“We were all worried with the ban. We would like to thank the Government, who intervened to address the issues, raised with the stadium.
“Remember, before Covid-19 forced a total blackout in all footballing activities, we were set to host Algeria on a neutral venue, maybe in South Africa or Zambia.
“It was very difficult but the Government reacted with speed and took full advantage of the break in football activities.’’
Kamambo said the Warriors have always felt at home at the giant stadium and, even though there won’t be any fans to back them, they need to be given the chance to play inside their home ground.
The ZIFA president also said, after they rejected the offer from the Algerians, they decided to provide the North Africans with a similar offer where both matches would be played at the National Sports Stadium.
Predictably, he said, the Algerians rejected the ZIFA offer.
“We are happy now that CAF has accepted to let us use the National Sports Stadium for the big game against Algeria, pending its full refurbishment,’’ said Kamambo.
“So, we cannot then accept to go and play our home game in Algeria. We want our players to feel at home when we host Algeria.
‘’Although there will be no fans to rally behind them, inside the stadium, psychologically, playing at the National Sports Stadium makes them feel very much at home.
“It’s motivating so to speak.
“So, after we turned down the offer by the Algerians to have both matches played in Algeria, we then offered them the same.
“We proposed to them that both games be played at the National Sports Stadium and we would meet their accommodation expenses but they also refused.
“So the matches will go ahead with them hosting us first before we play them at home between November 12 and 16.”
Algeria lead the standings on six points, after two rounds of fixtures, while Zimbabwe are second on four points.
Botswana, who picked their only point in the goalless draw against Zimbabwe last November, are third on the table.
Former African champions Zambia are at the foot of the table with no points.
Two teams will qualify for the rescheduled finals in Cameroon in 2022 after CAF moved the tournament by a year.
Meanwhile, Warriors midfielder, Marshall Munetsi made the SofaScore French Ligue 1 Team of the Week after helping his club, Stade Reims, beat Strasbourg 2-1 at the weekend.
The gritty midfielder is one of the stars of the Warriors team.
Munetsi was in the starting XI and helped his team to their second league win of the season and they are now in 15th place.
They have also drawn two games and lost five matches.
Two of his teammates — Belgians Thomas Foket and Wout Faes — also made the Ligue 1 Team of the Week to underline the strong all-round team performance by Stade Reims in their victory.