RESIDENTS and the business community in Kabwe have bemoaned the decision by FAZ to relocate the venue of the forthcoming Cosafa Senior Challenge from Godfrey ‘Ucar’ Chitalu Stadium to Kitwe.
Stanley Kapote Mwanguku, director of Misuku Lodge in Kabwe, said the staging of COSAFA in the area would have benefited the local people and the economy of the town adding that it was an opportunity showcase the town’s hospitality industry.
“The hospitality industry has suffered a serious setback because us in this industry had already facilitated some bookings at our lodges and some guests had already made some payments. How are we going to redeem ourselves?” Mwangunku said.
Meanwhile, former Kabwe mayor Richard Yumbe has asked the Football Association of Zambia and Cosafa to reconsider its decision, adding that there was still time for the association to ask Godfrey Ucar Chitalu stadium management to work on the highlighted challenges before the tournament.
“This was the only opportunity for the town to host a tournament of this magnitude since 1978 when Kabwe Warriors hosted the East and Central African challenge tournament,” said Yumbe.
The Cosafa Senior Challenge will be hosted in Zambia in July with two venues already confirmed at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka and Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
However Godfrey Chitalu stadium which was scheduled to host some group matches was withdrawn as one of the venues as it did not meet the tournament’s standards.
In a statement Cosafa said the Godfrey Chitalu was withdrawn because of logistical challenges to upgrade the stadium.
“Kabwe was initially scheduled to be the third venue for the prestigious regional tournament but logistical challenges in upgrading the stadium to the required standard for the competition have meant it has been withdrawn,” stated Timothy Shongwe, Chairman of Cosafa’s Competitions Committee.
Cosafa has instead included Kitwe to join Lusaka and Ndola as the host towns for the tournament though the association could not confirm the stadium to be used.
“There will be no changes to the schedule, the matches that were supposed to be played in Kabwe will now be moved to Kitwe. It was a decision taken on logistical grounds but we are excited to have such an option as Kitwe to host matches. The city has a strong football culture and a great history in the game,” Shongwe said.
This year’s Cosafa Senior challenge will run from July 6 to 20.
The tournament is returning after a three year absence and Zimbabwe were the last country to win it when they beat Zambia 3-1 in the final in 2009.