THE Government has said Zambia is now ready to stage international football matches following the opening of the magnificent Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
After watching a captivating MTN Premier Division League football feast which signalled the opening of the $65 million state-of-art structure at the weekend, Sport and Youth Minister Chishimba Kambwili said the stadium was ready to host a match of any significance.
Kambwili described the 40,280-capacity stadium as a master piece and that all was now set for the official commissioning on June 2, a week before Zambia hosts Ghana in the 2014 World Cup qualifier.
He thanked the inter-ministerial committee which worked hard to ensure the weekend's 'mock session' was a success, incident free and went according to plan.
The minister said the standards of football exhibited by the four top clubs at the weekend was impressive, an indicator that the Zambian sport was improving.
League leaders, Zesco United beat Nchanga Rangers 2-0 in the first game before champions, Power Dynamos annihilated arch-rivals Nkana 5-1.
FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya thanked the Government for facilitating the smooth opening of the stadium which he said befits Zambia's status as African champions.
"I'm proud that we've a stadium that befits our status as African champions," an ecstatic Kalusha said.
He said it was important for the local clubs to get the feel of the new pitch before it stages an international game.
Kalusha thanked officials from the four clubs for accepting to play their league encounters at the new stadium and described the two league matches played on the pitch as fantastic and a good way of opening the stadium.
"It was a fantastic opening to the stadium. We saw some good goals," the FAZ president said of the games which produced a total eight goals.
Zambia Voluntary Soccer Fans Association (ZAVOSOFA) patron Peter Makembo saluted President Michael Sata for allowing the opening of the stadium, saying it was a great motivator before the Chipolopolo begins the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
Makembo said the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium was one of the best in Africa and appealed to fellow fans to guard it jealously.
Thousands of Zambians thronged the picturesque Levy Mwanawasa Stadium to witness the opening of the structure and also watch some of the nation's most exciting football clubs in action.
Meanwhile, the Chipolopolo were yesterday expected to regroup in South Africa ahead of a training camp to begin preparations for the crucial 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Sudan and Ghana on June 2 and 9 respectively.
The team comprising local players namely Danny Munyau, Kalililo Kakonje, Nyambe Mulenga, Thomas Nyirenda and Joseph Sitali left yesterday morning aboard a morning South African airways flight.
Also expected to join the team yesterday was South African-based Isaac Chansa, Noah Chivuta, Davies Nkausu, Chintu Kampamba and Belgium based Rodger Kola and Chisamba Lungu who plays in Russia.