Langton Nyakwenda

RUFARO Stadium will host an official football match for the first time since 2019 this afternoon as CAPS United host newcomers, Bikita Minerals, in a Week 3 fixture of the 2024 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.

Harare-based teams, including CAPS United and Dynamos, waited patiently as ZIFA First Instance Board chairman, Sharif Mussa and his team, conducted the final inspection at the Mbare venue yesterday.

It was a very long process that lasted more than six hours.

When Mussa emerged from the rigorous exercise to announce that Rufaro had been partially homologated, there was a positive vibe across the football fraternity.

“We went to Rufaro today (yesterday), and we did our inspection based on previous inspections after having left them with a snag list of things to sort out, we have now seen remarkable improvement, and they have done a splendid job in trying to work,” said Mussa.

“The Mayor and the relevant people have done a great job in moving towards great achievement.

“So, we have decided that we will temporarily homologate Rufaro immediately.”

Mussa, however, warned that Rufaro will be de-homologated if there are no improvements to specific areas highlighted during yesterday’s inspection.

“There’s a bit of things they have to do. We have given them another snag list which they will work on and we will be monitoring it regularly to see that they maintain the work and the effort, and they get better at it.

“If we see complacency and they don’t really work on anything then we will have to temporarily hold the homologation.”

Premier Soccer League football returns to Mbare this afternoon when CAPS United host Bikita Minerals in one of the six fixtures that will kick start the Easter holiday football fiesta.

The 61-year-old venue has been under renovations following years of deterioration and now returns to the fold after 1, 566 days of closure.

The last Premier Soccer League match at Rufaro was the goalless draw between Harare City and Ngezi Platinum Stars on December 14, 2009.

The return of Rufaro has excited Premier Soccer League chairman, Farai Jere, who is confident the venue can attract huge crowds.

“It’s exciting times for the Premier Soccer League. We all know Rufaro is the ceremonial home of football and we have all been missing the facility,” Jere told Zimpapers Sport.

Without Rufaro, Harare teams including Dynamos and CAPS United used the National Sports Stadium.

Sadly, when the National Sports was closed midway through the 2023 season, both DeMbare and Makepekepe shifted base to Barbourfields, in an unprecedented development while other teams relocated to Kariba, Mhondoro and Zvishavane.

Attendance figures plummeted as the National Sports is located far away from a number of high density suburbs like Mabvuku and Chitungwiza.

“We expect the attendance figures to boost because Rufaro has a pulling power thanks to its centrality,” said Jere.

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