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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 November 2007, 18:01 GMT
Zambia stadium in World Cup race
By Farayi Mungazi
BBC Sport, Cairo

The Independence Stadium in Lusaka currently being renovated
Zambia could play World Cup qualifiers abroad
Zambia is in a race against time to have a Fifa-approved venue ready for the start of their 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

Teddy Mulonga, president of the Football Association of Zambia (Faz), told BBC Sport that the issue is so critical that "playing our home matches away from home is now a possibility."

The Independence stadium in Lusaka, once the pride of the nation but neglected for most of its 40-odd years, has been out of action for several months due to its dilapidated state.

That forced the national team to play their 2008 African Nations Cup qualifiers at Konkola stadium in Chililabombwe, 400km north of Lusaka.

But Konkola stadium itself looks like a relic from the 1950s, with rundown concrete bleachers and an uneven playing surface that left inspectors from world governing body, Fifa, distinctly unimpressed.

Mulonga said his association recognises Konkola's shortcomings and is working together with the government to rectify the situation.

However, the Faz boss conceded that stringent Fifa requirements could yet force them to play their home matches on foreign soil.

"Certain sections of Konkola are being redeveloped, with the renovation of dressing rooms and numbering of all seats being the main priorities," Mulonga said.

"It's not something that is insurmountable but if we can't comply with the regulatory authority, Zambians should understand that we may play our home matches in Zimbabwe or Malawi.

"That is obviously a prospect we would not want to happen but we're facing a real situation here."

Mulonga was speaking in Cairo, Egypt, where a meeting of the Confederation of African Football's inter-club committee he was attending coincided with the Champions League final.

"Of course, one wants a situation where all your spectators are around but in football, we can play any team anywhere and at any time.

"We've played in other countries before and have carried the day, so playing outside Zambia should not be a big challenge for us."

Mulonga said the lack of suitable infrastructure in Zambia is a result of the country's failure to stage international events like the African Nations Cup.

He said: "I think we're paying for having been too shy over the years to host any of these international extravaganzas.

"Because we haven't hosted any international events, we still have the old infrastructure that was built years back."


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