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ZPC Kariba Unhappy Over Banning of Nyamhunga Stadium

ZPC is the first team from Kariba town to grace the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League. (Photo/Falcon Safaris website)
What had been billed to be a year of celebration for football fans and business operators in the border town of Kariba has turned into a nightmare as the recently promoted Premier Soccer League club cannot fully utilize its home advantage to lift the coveted Zimbabwe soccer title.

Last year, wild scenes of celebration gripped the town after ZPC Kariba Football Club won the northern region Division One Championship, earning themselves promotion into the top flight football league, the Premier Soccer League.

The local residents saw the promotion of the club into the premiership stable as the time to see a growth in all forms of business due to the influx of football fans from different parts of the country, who were expected to throng the town to cheer their teams.

Kariba resident, Simbarashe Matonho, celebrated the team's promotion and saw it as an avenue that would see his fishing business blossom and taxi drivers and accommodation facilities making more money than in the past.

To his colleague, Peter Shumba, the promotion of the team meant the chance to watch top flight football action especially the likes of Dynamos and Highlanders while at the same time supporting her own home team to survive relegation.

But all that celebration has turned to despair after the Zimbabwe Football Association grounds committee declared the local Nyamhunga Stadium not fit for premiership football.

The club has been forced to relocate to an alternative venue and Premier Soccer League Chief Executive Officer Kennedy Ndebele says ZPC Kariba are not allowed to use Nyamhunga Stadium until it has been renovated to premiership standards.

The Kariba-based side are this weekend away to Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium but will be at home next weekend where they will be forced to play away from their familiar turf.

What is also disheartening to the football fans of Kariba is the fact that they cannot also use stadia close by in Chinhoyi and Karoi as they have also been deemed not fit for premiership action.

A ZPC supporter, Norman Masendeke, says it hurts to lose the opportunity to watch their own team in its backyard, adding that the decision on their stadium should have been communicated last year.

Masendeke thinks this will cripple the club.

Another resident of Kariba, Marita Sunga, says she is disappointed by the sudden turn of events.

ZPC coach Saul Chaminuka says it is a disadvantage for his team not to play in front of their own home fans.

However, there is still hope for the residents of Kariba. ZESA spokesperson Shepherd Mandizvidza says his company is mobilizing financial resources to upgrade the stadium.

Mandizvidza says they will do everything possible to ensure that the team survives relegation by using home advantage.

ZPC Kariba are the first ever team in the history of Zimbabwean football from Kariba to be promoted to play premiership football.

They are also the only team from Mashonaland West in the premiership following the demise of Eiffel Flats, formerly known as Rio Tinto, who no longer exist.