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HEROES FIT FOR MATCHES -MULENGA

SPORTS minister Emmanuel Mulenga says the National Heroes Stadium will be fit to host international matches despite vandalism taking place at the site.

Mulenga, who visited the stadium with works and supply minister Sylvia Chalikosa on Monday, said he is confident that the venue will pass FIFA/CAF standards.

“I think looking at what we have seen, we don’t have major defects which can stop any game from going on because the environment is still conducive for us to host any international game,” Mulenga said.

“The only vandalism is the fire hydrants which have been stolen and the running track and when there is a game, they use the pitch and the pitch is in good condition.”

Last month FIFA instructors completed the inspection of National Heroes and Levy Mwanawasa stadia to ascertain their suitability to host international matches.

Top instructors Mark Fish and Titus Kunamuwene from Namibia led the inspections.

Among areas checked are measurements of the pitch, goalposts, flag posts, corner flags, dressing rooms, referees and media section, space for the disabled people, doping rooms, clinics, parking areas, nearby hospitals, training grounds, lifts, VVIP stands and VIP stands among others.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) identified four stadia across the country for upgrading by FIFA under the agreed strategic objectives and projects with the global mother body.

Stadia set to be upgraded by FIFA under the infrastructure development programme are Kaole (Mansa), David Kaunda (Chipata), Independence (Solwezi) and Kasama Sports Stadium.

But this can only happen if a member association acquire title to the infrastructure that FIFA identifies to fund.

Mulenga said the move to grant FAZ titles to the stadia needs wide consultation.

“According to what I saw in the newspaper is that obviously for FIFA to come on board it should be the base of the ground (the land must belong to FAZ). FAZ should be the actual owners but remember that the property belongs to the Zambians. We represent Zambian people so for us to make such a decision it needs wider consultation. As soon as that wide consultation is concluded then we will get back to you,” said Mulenga.

However, part of the requirement is that the title can be given to the home club or FAZ as the situation may be deemed fit and trigger the process of development by FIFA.

Previously, Maramba Stadium in Livingstone had been identified for grand renovations but the process of handing the title to Livingstone Pirates that is owned by the council to ensure access to FIFA resources dragged on with the offer expiring.

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