KAMPALA – The Federation of Uganda Football Associations-Fufa has listed up to four foreign countries as substitutes in hosting of the national team – The Cranes’ Africa Cup of Nations – Afcon upcoming qualifying fixtures.
Decolas Kiiza – the Fufa deputy CEO in charge of football revealed that Egypt, Malawi, Zambia or South Africa could host Uganda’s upcoming first against neighbours – Tanzania. The Cranes are set to face Taifa Stars in a double fixture scheduled within eight days in March 2023.
Uganda – according continental soccer governing body – Caf regulations lacks a stadium that meets the minimum required standards to host an international fixture – and as such Fufa was advised to search for an alternative venue to serve home for The Cranes.
St Mary’s Stadium – Kitende – which venue had – for the past two qualifiers – played the role – after Mandela National Stadium as well as Nakivubo War Memorial were technically ruled out – failed the Caf test.
In East Africa – it’s only Tanzania that has a Caf-approved Stadium but Kiiza ruled out the possibility of The Cranes playing both games in Dar es Salaam.
“Tanzania is an option but that means we shall play two games from there, which is a disadvantage to us. I don’t think we can consider that, it is not advisable,” he said
Among the queries raised by inspectors from the continental soccer governing body about St Mary’s Stadium included issues of safety and security control.
“Access control and exit – is the biggest issue outstanding. If you have studied well the entrance is one for all categories, so what happens if there is an emergency for people to leave the stadium, would they still use the same entrance?” wondered Kiiza.
“The other is the stadium set-up 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.
Also, the access road to the stadium which is murram has to be tarmacked as well as installing floodlights and failure to prove the main camera position.
This is however not the first time Uganda is pondering of hosting international games away from home. In April 2021, Uganda nearly took The Cranes World Cup qualifiers outside the country after Namboole had just been blacklisted.
But fortunately, Caf gave St Mary’s stadium a provisional licence despite having a couple of queries that were supposed to be worked on, which was never done.
Vipers CEO Simon Njuba said the stadium management was yet to receive any communication regarding the current development but was quick to add how the facility authorities were aware of the stadium’s flaws – claiming plans in advanced stages to address the same.
“Those areas are always there and you are always given time to improve. When you are asked to improve your facility – you definitely have to improve it, and we are committed to improving the stadium even without Caf’s intervention – we have always had that commitment that is why we are going to install floodlights,” revealed Njuba.
St Mary’s stadium became Uganda Crane’s home ground in 2021 after Caf and the Federation of International Football Association – Fifa disqualified Namboole stadium from hosting the 2022 World Cup qualifiers – insisting that the facility was substandard.
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.
They recommended the installation of 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) to replace the existing one which is out-dated, installation of desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections, a modern LED scoreboard, upgrading of floodlights.
The renovation project, which is under the UPDF Engineering Brigade gave priority to the construction of the 4.2km perimeter wall around the stadium and is expected to be accomplished in June 2023, according to Lt Col Peter Kidemuka -the Project Engineer.
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