The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has asked its member associations to utilise the football break to improve their infrastructures to be in compliance with the continental football governing body requirements.
Failure to facelift will see nations losing their hosting rights to international matches for both clubs and country.
In a circular to all member associations released on Sunday, Caf said that only high-quality pitch will be approved for national team and Caf club competitions.
“In this regard and considering the current suspension of domestic or international football competitions due to the Covid-19 disease, Caf is recommending that this interruption period is used to improve the stadiums and other match facilities in your respective venues wherever possible,” reads part of the circular.
“Please note that all Caf competitions’ matches must be played in stadiums homologated by Caf. A stadium will not be approved where it receives a negative report resulting from an inspection visit or match. Caf has identified main points which are considered as must have requirements in order for a stadium to be approved for high-level matches. Where a country’s stadium does not fulfill the requirements, their national team and or clubs may be required to play their matches in an improved stadium in another country.”
Caf has put 13 mandatory standards for the stadiums to be approved to host domestic and international matches.
The conditions include, high quality pitch, flood lights, teams and officials’ benches, individual seats, international standard clean and dressing rooms, sanitary facilities for spectators, stadium safety and fire certificate, media facilities and hospitals around the venue.
Under pitch criteria, Caf has emphasized that the playing field must be smooth and level whether natural or artificial grass. For natural grass, the field must have an efficient watering system for use in dry weather whereas for artificial turf, must provide a Fifa field certificate which cannot be older than two years.
It is also mandatory for the stadiums to have spacious and high-quality dressing rooms and other facilities to ensure that players and officials can carry out their activities in safety.
Stadium must also provide separate entrance for the media and must provide a dedicated car parking area for the media.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) Licencing and Compliance Manager, Casper Jangale hailed Caf for the timely communication.
“This is an opportunity for the ground owners to improve the stadiums while football is on recess so that when football resumes, we should not give excuses to Caf,” Jangale said.
Caf has also listed some conditions that stadium might be approved to host matches for a specific time frame if they have emergency lighting system, public address system, public access and egress and dedicated parking space for spectators.
Well known football consultant, Felix Ngamanya Sapao said some of the local facilities need improvements.
“There is a need to increase the size of dressing rooms. Kamuzu Stadium does not qualify. The dressing rooms are compact and very small including referees and medical rooms,” Sapao said said.
Malawi national football team, the Flames use Kamuzu Stadium as home ground for international matches after the facility capacity was trimmed to 14 000 from 22,000. Bingu National Stadium, despite complying with Caf conditions, has hosted few matches since 2017.