Sport

Welcome to mudsplash, wash aways

Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
FROM next year, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) Super Division will conform to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) statutes of running alongside the European calendar.
A good move especially that it prevents conflicts between African players plying their trade in the European leagues and their pay masters there.
South Africa adopted the European schedule a long time ago and it has seemingly worked well.
But for Zambia, with its limited sports infrastructure, we are not sure how the restructuring will work. But I can see a number of matches being washed away.
It is no brainer that most stadiums that Super Division teams use cannot host matches in the rainy season as most of the pitches become unplayable.
The infrastructure needs a facelift, a major facelift.
But what are the clubs doing to ensure that matches will not be abandoned when the heavens open?
For instance in Lusaka, when you talk about quality infrastructure, National Heroes, Nkoloma and Woodlands stadiums come to mind.
But even these only meet the basics with the 60,000-seater National Heroes Stadium, which was opened in 2014, being the best of them all.
Both Nkoloma and Woodlands stadiums, which got a facelift thanks to the benevolence of businessman Diego Casilli, have good playing facilities but the problem comes with fans seated in the opening wings.
Football is a spectator game and you do not want to play in an empty stadium.
On the Copperbelt, perhaps only Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola and Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe can bid to host matches throughout the year.
From what I can see, a number of teams will be making losses since not all fans want to risk getting soaked for the love of the game.
Clubs will be deprived of gate takings, which are one of their main sources of revenue.
A number of teams rely on gate takings for their survival to top up on what they get from their sponsors.
A team like Zesco United can stand on its own because over the years, the Ndola giants have been competing in the CAF Champions League and the continental body gives thousands of dollars to teams that reach the group stage.
Nkana, Power Dynamos and Zanaco can also survive when the going gets tough.
But I feel for teams like newly promoted Super Division outfit Circuit City who need every coin to fulfil fixtures in the elite league.
I hope the FAZ secretariat has already met teams to inform them on areas that need attention to their stadiums so that the season runs smoothly.
FAZ inspectors should not be quick to certify stadiums ready to host matches when in fact not.
Super Division standards should not be compromised.
To call a spade a spade, a number of stadiums in the country cannot pass an inspection test if inspectors were to apply even the most minimum standards.
All in all, the new CAF format is worth implementing because it is for the good of our football.
Lastly, I wish Zesco United, Nkana, Green Buffaloes and Green Eagles the best of luck in this weekend’s continental assignments.
sphiri@daily-mail.co.zm, phiristeve4@gmail.com

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