Stadium crisis hits Eswatini footballThomas Kwenaite
BY LINDA DLAMINI
Another Southern African country find itself forced to host their international matches in a foreign country to a decision by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) declaring their stadium unfit to host matches.
A year ago Zimbabwe was told the National Stadium and Rufaro in the capital Harare as well as the Barbourfield Stadium in Bulawayo were deemed inadequate to host international matches, forcing the country to negotiate with neighbours South Africa to stage their matches in Mzansi.
Now Eswatini football finds itself also in a serious venue crisis after CAF banned the only available sports ground considered good enough to stage international matches – Mavuso Trade Ground – which was the only available ground fit enough to host CAF and other international games.
The pronouncement was made last week and the decision has left Eswatini with no stadium capable enough to host CAF games, after the continental body had taken a decision almost three years ago to ban the Somhlolo National Stadium which they claimed no longer met CAF standards.
In a statement released on March 1, CAF stated about Mvuso Trade grounds: “the dressing rooms and the pitch amongst other things were the main reason for the imposition of the ban as they do not meet the required CAF standards”.
This have left the football association of Eswatini with a king-size headache as the national team, Sihlangu is scheduled to host Guinea Bissau on the 26th of March in the penultimate fixture of the 2022 African Nations Cup qualifiers which is two weeks from now.
The outgoing President of the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Adam “Bomber” Mtsetfwa expressed in an interview his disappointment saying: “no CAF officials came to the country to inspect Mavuso. We just received a letter saying the stadium (Mavuso) is banned from hosting CAF games”.
Now Sihlangu, the national team of Eswatini have to find home away from home to host Guinea Bissau and indications are that the country will have no option but to speak to their neighbours South Africa for assistance.
“We are indeed in talks with our friends from South Africa and they have indicated that could avail the Dobsonville and Orlando Stadiums both in Soweto for us to host Guinea Bissau,” Mtsetfwa said.
Eswatini is yet to win a match in this year’s AFCON qualifiers in what is considered one of the toughest groups where they have been paired with the current number one ranked nation in Africa – Senegal – who have already qualified with 12 points after four rounds.
Congo lie second with seven points, Guinea Bissau are third with three and Eswatini are bottom with a single point with their chances of qualifying very slim indeed.