THE 2024 Premier Soccer League season is set to roar into life on February 24 after the ZIFA Normalisation Committee put in place the First Instance Board (FIB) to ensure stadia and all 18 top-flight teams are compliant with requirements.
The FIB is responsible for examining stadia to ensure that they meet minimum standards and that clubs adhere to licensing requirements in line with international expectations.
A three-member committee consisting of Shariff Mussa, CAF general coordinators Gaylord Madhunguza and Violet Jubane will work to drive the FIB.
Shariff will chair the FIB.
Premiership teams are already finalising their pre-season training while awaiting completion of the inspection. The season kicks off with Ngezi Platinum Stars and Dynamos battling it out for the Castle Challenge Cup at Baobob on February 24.
The trophy is contested by winners of the Chibuku Super Cup and Castle Lager PSL champions. ZIFA chief executive officer, Yvonne Manwa, said the FIB will be starting its work at the earliest convenience.
“The First Instance Body has already been constituted and it will be starting its club licensing compliance processes at the earliest convenience to allow league competitions to commence as scheduled,” she said.
“The FIB’s work is not only limited to reviewing stadium inspection reports; it will also assess clubs’ compliance (using) all the club licensing criteria based on agreed standards for our leagues.
“We are retaining Shariff Mussa as the chairperson for continuity and also because of his vast experience as a CAF general coordinator.
“We have also roped in other CAF general coordinators, Gaylord Madhunguza and Violet Jubane who have done similar work in the region and (across) the continent.”
With the FIB not in place, the proposed Harare Mayor’s Challenge Cup between giants Dynamos and CAPS United scheduled for Rufaro on Sunday was put on ice with the former pulling out of the tie citing the unavailability of a “homologation report” from the FIB.
But the Glamour Boys and Makepekepe as well as Herentals will be keeping their fingers crossed in the hope that Rufaro passes the test.
With the National Sports Stadium is unlikely to be available due to scheduled renovation works until around May, Harare-based teams will be hoping that Rufaro gets the greenlight to host top-tier matches.
The venue last staged Premiership games in 2019 and has been failing eligibility tests over the past four years. Clubs from the capital will also be hoping that Prophet Magaya’s Heart Stadium will be made available as they could all end up using the newly-built facility.
Yadah Stars, who survived relegation on the last day of the season last year after beating Dynamos 2-1, are the fourth team from Harare in the top-flight and they will likely be using their Heart Stadium. There was a stadium crisis in Harare last year resulting in seven teams, including Dynamos, CAPS United, Cranborne Bullets, Yadah, Herentals, Simba Bhora and Black Rhinos looking for homes away from home.
Simba Bhora’s Wadzanai Stadium in Shamva is in the final phases of construction and they played all their 34 league games in their debut season away from Shamva. They will be hoping their ground is cleared for top-flight matches.
Just like Simba Bhora, Manica Diamonds also spent the entire 2023 season playing away from their Sakubva home as the stadium was undergoing renovations which are being finalised.