June 14, 2024

Uganda Cranes back to Namboole stadium

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Mandela National stadium

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has cleared Mandela National Stadium-Namboole to resume hosting internationally matches. According to a statement shared by the Ugandan FA Spokesperson Ahmed Hussein, CAF permitted FUFA to host international fixtures at Namboole barely two weeks after FUFA conducted two test matches at the stadium.

This development means that the Uganda Cranes will have the opportunity to host their crucial upcoming FIFA 2026 World Cup qualifying fixtures against Botswana and Algeria next month on home soil. Previously, international engagements were held away from home due to the unavailability of a suitable stadium.

Last month, URN reported that FUFA was in silent negotiations with CAF to allow them to host the June Games at Namboole provided that the stadium meets the basic requirements. This plea by FUFA came after a CAF inspection report indicated that the Namboole Stadium, undergoing renovations for the past two years, still falls short of the required standards to host international games.

CAF highlighted several deficiencies, including relocating the media tribunal, addressing the unfinished ceiling, upgrading floodlights, improving the VVIP section, and reducing seating capacity from 40,818 to 38,000 due to visibility issues caused by structural posts.

Despite these queries, Col Peter Kidemuka, the Project Engineer, assured that most issues were already being addressed and would be resolved soon. The floodlights, a key concern, have been ordered and are expected to arrive shortly. Kidemuka pledged that the stadium would be ready by May 25, 2025, well in advance of the Uganda Cranes’ fixtures.

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network (URN) then, Decolus Kiiza, FUFA’s Deputy CEO in Charge of Football, said they had initiated negotiations with CAF to honor the contractor’s new deadline and inform Algeria and Botswana of any developments.

“We are trying to negotiate in view of the concrete program now because the major hindrance now is the floodlights. It is the only factor that cannot easily be met. So until they are here you can’t guarantee anything, so we are negotiating whether they can allow us to work with that revised program of completion,” Kiiza told URN.

Subsequently, FUFA selected two Uganda Premier League matches, including the traditional Kampala derby between KCCA FC and SC Villa, along with Bidco FC facing Kitende-based club Vipers SC, to be played at the stadium as part of the measures to test its readiness after two years under renovation, a development that FUFA boss Moses Magogo described as a success.

This will be the first time for Uganda Cranes to host its games at their favored Namboole stadium since November 2019 when they last hosted their games there before the facility was blacklisted by the continental soccer governing body, claiming that it was substandard.

Source: URN

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