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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Zimbabwe to renovate main stadium
By Steve Vickers
BBC Sport, Harare

Harare's National Sports Stadium
The National Sports Stadium will close in early November

Zimbabwe's National Sports Stadium will close in early November for 20 months for extensive renovations.

Authorities aim to make the facility more attractive to teams that qualify for the 2010 World Cup in neighbouring South Africa.

The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and the government are both optimistic that some teams will choose to train in Harare ahead of the 2010 finals.

"We are very hopeful that some national teams will use our facilities for training ahead of 2010," Zifa chairman Wellington Nyatanga told BBC Sport.

"The upgrading will have a long-term benefit for us, and it should help us win the right to host the Nations Cup one day."

The Chinese government, which financed the construction of the stadium that opened in 1987, has given a grant of US$5.8 million to fund the improvements.

Ignatius Chombo, Zimbabwe's minister for public works, says that a number of areas will be repaired - including the roof, public address system, electronic scoreboard, sewage system and offices.

However, the money will not be used to improve the state of the pitch as Zifa has already approached Fifa for funding to lay an artificial surface at the stadium.

Repair work will begin in the second week of November, so the Warriors must find an alternative venue for next year's Nations Cup qualifiers against Morocco and Malawi.

In 1999, there were fears about the safety of the 60,000-capacity stadium after cracks appeared in parts of the structure.

Basic repair work was carried out, but many parts of the stadium have remained in a dilapidated state.



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