AFCON: Uganda Cranes To Host Algeria In Cameroon

The Federation of Uganda’s Football Association (FUFA) has announced that the Uganda Cranes Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying match against Algeria, scheduled for June 2023, will be played in Cameroon.

This decision comes after FUFA inspected the Mandela National Stadium and confirmed that it is not yet ready to host the qualifiers.

The stadium was expected to undergo major renovations, but as of Monday, 24th April 2023, there was no significant update as far as the renovation is concerned. This will be the second time this year that Uganda is hosting its home games away from home. The first was their first leg against Tanzania, which was hosted at the Suez Canal Authority Stadium in Egypt.

According to FUFA’s press statement, the deadline set by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for all federations to submit names of venues to be used for the qualifiers was Tuesday, 25th April 2023. As a result, FUFA had to make a quick decision and chose Cameroon due to the availability of several qualified stadiums in the country, which gives the team various venue options. Additionally, Cameroon will have no international fixtures during that break.

Moses Magogo, the President of FUFA, also said that the Cameroon Football Association has offered to arrange a friendly match for Uganda Cranes, which can aid in their preparation for the crucial encounter against Algeria.

This decision, however, contradicts the State Minister for Sports Peter Ogwang’s earlier assurance to Ugandan soccer fans that the game would be hosted in Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, which is undergoing major renovations. Ogwang tweeted on March 29th, 2023, that work inside Namboole was on course and that he had chaired a stakeholders’ meeting of UPDF engineers and Namboole management and was optimistic the stadium would be ready for use in June.

“The game against Algeria will be played here in Namboole Stadium on 12th June. That is my promise to Ugandans.” Minister Ogwang tweeted on March 29th, 2023. Uganda Cranes has been homeless since March this year, after St. Mary’s Stadium Kitende, which was Uganda Cranes’ home ground for two years since CAF blacklisted Mandela National Stadium in 2020, also failed to meet the CAF requirements to host the Uganda Cranes’ matches.

In an earlier interview with URN, Decolas Kiiza, the FUFA Deputy CEO-Football, revealed that among the queries raised by inspectors from the Continental Soccer governing body about St. Mary’s stadium, Kitende were issues of safety and security control.

“The other is the stadium setup itself, where the VVIP is. If you are to exit the stadium from the VVIP, you still have to connect to other people. There is no way you say these are VVIPs let me evacuate them without interfering with others,” he added.

For Namboole, the two bodies found the pitch, toilets, pavilion, and dressing rooms at the Mandela Stadium in an appalling state, hence declaring it unfit to host any continental and international match and recommending an overhaul. The government subsequently embarked on the renovation project in February 2023, with the contract given to the UPDF Engineering Brigade.

The contractor first gave priority to the construction of the 4.2km perimeter wall around the stadium and expected the entire renovation to be completed by June 2023.

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