Minister Apologizes for Failure to Complete Namboole Stadium Ahead of AFCON Games

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The state Minister for Education and Sports, Honorable Peter Ogwang, apologized to the general public yesterday 25th April 2023, and admitted that he had broken the promise he had made to the nation about Namboole hosting the game against Algeria.

“I am pained to announce that Uganda Cranes’ AFCON home qualifier game scheduled for June 2023 will be played in Cameroon for failure to have works at Namboole Stadium completed on time. I take full responsibility & apologize to Ugandans for failing to fulfill my own promise,” Ogwang said.

“However, work remains ongoing and on schedule as per the contract. All procurement contracts have been signed, but we were only delayed in terms of deliveries, which could go up to mid-May. Gov’t remains steadfast to ensure that the Stadium is completed without further delays,” he continued.

On March 29th, Peter Ogwang had promised in a tweet that the game against Algeria would be played at Namboole Stadium on 12th June 2023.

Initially, CAF disqualified Mandela National Stadium-Namboole for the games, relegating the Cranes to St Mary’s Kitende Stadium, which has also not made the cut for the AFCON qualifier games. The other option would have been Nakivubo Stadium, but it’s also under construction to be upgraded to a far better stadium. This leaves Uganda at the mercy of other countries to host its games.

FIFA and CAF recommended new seats in the general public stands, a new green playing surface, decent changing rooms for both players and officials, a new running track (tartan), the installation of desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections, a modern LED scoreboard, and upgrading of floodlights at the Mandela National Stadium.

The renovation, which is being undertaken by the UPDF Engineering Brigade, started with the construction of the 4.2km perimeter wall surrounding every corner of the stadium.

Lt. Col. Peter Kidemuka, the project engineer, confirmed that the wall, whose construction cost 3.8 billion shillings, has been completed and awaits to be handed over. The engineers will then embark on phase two.

Phase two of the renovations will include working on the plumbing equipment, repairing the pitch, pavilion, and dressing rooms, installing desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections, seats in the general public stands, and upgrading floodlights as directed by CAF. The engineers are hopeful that by June 2023, renovations will be completed.

Uganda Cranes will play Algeria on 12th June for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier game, and since the works at Namboole won’t be complete then, the game has been moved to Yaounde, Cameroon, as confirmed by the FUFA president.

“According to the latest stadium homologation by CAF, the Uganda Cranes shall have no stadium in Uganda to host AFCON and World Cup Qualifiers. Unfortunately, all our immediate neighbors don’t have stadiums that qualify. So we are looking at nations like Zambia, Malawi, and Egypt, among others,” FUFA President Moses Magogo said.

Magogo says playing away from home could affect the team’s chances for qualification as they will miss the fans’ impact on the games.

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