FUFA boss Moses Magogo has revealed the likely options where Uganda Cranes might host their forthcoming AFCON Qualifiers.
CAF did not approve any stadium in the country fit to host an AFCON Qualifier game.
Uganda Cranes will host Tanzania next month in the Qualifiers and CAF gave FUFA an ultimatum of February 10 to have submitted a stadium where they will host the game from.
Magogo revealed that they are contemplating on Zambia, Malawi or Egypt as possible options.
“The consequences are that we have to host the game away from Uganda,” Magogo told Journalist Regina Priscilla Nalwoga during an interview with NTV.
“We are considering Countries like Zambia, Malawi or Egypt; these are nearest we can talk about. Amongst our neighbors none of them has a stadium apart from Tanzania and it’s our opponent so technically it’s a challenge for us to be hosting our game there.
“But those are the consequences, you lose the home advantage. When you play at home, it’s always the 12th player that you bank on. In this case, we will have to play away from home.”
With the dilapidated Namboole still under renovation, Uganda Cranes has been hosting games at St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende.
But Magogo confirmed that even Kitende did not pass licensing requirements this time after CAF raising standards.
He explained: “CAF has raised the requirements of these stadiums and 24 out of 54 countries in Africa are actually in a similar situation like us.
“So probably, the problem is not actually in Uganda but we have to look at it on a bigger scale.
“The issue is that CAF has categorised these games; the Senior National team men’s A. The quality of the stadiums they want even St Mary’s cannot measure to it. For club football, and other competition probably we can use St Mary’s.”
Besides Tanzania, none of the neighbors in CECAFA region including Kenya, Rwanda, DR Congo, South Sudan, Sudan and Ethiopia has a stadium that was passed.
Zambia have two stadiums that were passed – National Heroes and Levy Mwanawasa stadium.
Egypt has six stadiums – Cairo International Stadium, 30th of June Stadium, Alexandria Stadium, Borg El Arab, Suez Canal Stadium, Al-Salam stadium.
Malawi got one – Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe – that was passed.
It’s strong to note that CAF stadium regulations are the technical requirements to be met by stadiums for use in football competitions under the auspices of CAF.
CAF, football governing body in Africa, uses the regulations to provide the best conditions for football practice, safety, functionality and comfort for player, fans and officials.
On whether FUFA has a budget to host from outside the Country, Magogo revealed:
“That’s another challenge, the appropriation that had been done by Parliamment of about Sh47bn for the sports sub sector where Football had Sh17bn for the year ending June, we would take priorities definitely we would have to compromise here and there to ensure that we undertake the games. But the reality is that all that money has not come through by 50% mark. We have received about 4.8bn.
“Hosting a game within your country is cheaper than away where you lose revenue, and support of fans. But the challenge still remains that there is no short cut to it, we will have to play.”
Uganda Cranes recently unveiled MTN as the new official sponsor of the Uganda Cranes, joining along list of the senior team sponsors that include Nivana, Eco Bank, BIDCO, Nile Special among others.
And Magogo said that current scenarios will jeopardize those partnerships.
“Hosting outside the Country surely affect those partnerships. It’s an unfortunate situation we wouldn’t want to be in, we hope it’s temporary. We have these relationships as long term, we hope that if in six months we have Namboole ready, may be by the time we host Algeria which is our other home game in June or September, may be will have our home back and Sponsors will take advantage of these matches.
“However, we continue providing to our sponsors other opportunities for them to communicate their brand messages to consumers and our fans other than the event of the home match (Cranes).”
Magogo Says Namboole Not Yet Ready
The Management of Namboole is racing against time to have the National Stadium ready before the end of this year.
“When CAF did the homologation as it does annually, Namboole was classified as not fit for competitions especially for Men’s A team,” Magogo said.
“We discussed the Ministry of Education and Sports, I am aware and I sit on the Budgetary committee of Parliament. We passed 97bn, which was the requirement according to the management of Namboole and this money has already been released to the management of the stadium and work is ongoing bit the fact is that it’s not ready.
“So currently as we speak, CAF considers that the stadium is not ready for use.”
“Namboole without that external perimeter fence was always a disaster waiting to happen because when you allow over 40,000 people wanting to enter that stadium closer to the internal perimeter Namboole didn’t have the capacity to stop people from getting in.
The FUFA President added:
“I’m the President of the Football Association in Uganda, we do not manage this Stadium (Namboole). We are just clients of the stadium. We can only raise the noise just like any other Ugandan which we have done through parliament and that’s how the resources have been available. How fast or the quality of the work, we are not part of it. We are only clients when we go to Namboole to use it, we pay rent just like any other Ugandan.”
“I have been invited by the Minister to go and do the physical inspections of the works that are going on, for fact and for sure is that CAF has given us until February 10 to be able to submit a stadium that has been homologated by CAF. Between now and 10, I don’t think that there will be any miracle that can be done for that stadium to be ready. We have engaged the management. Like I said work is going on but probably the speed at which its going, may not necessarily make us ready to use it in time.”
Hosting AFCON Dream Still Alive
Midway last year, Magogo said that Uganda want to bid to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2027.
The FUFA boss has now confirmed that the new developments have nothing on those dreams.
“Its a dream that has not died. When allocating the hosts of an Africa Cup, they give this opportunity to host according to plan (not what is physically there) and that’s why as we speak today Ivory Coast is not ready to host but will host in 2024. Cameroon was supposed to host in 2019 but were not ready until 2021.”
“The beauty is that when you take the need to host an African Cup of Nations, it helps you build on infrastructure, it’s not about winning the bid, but also the interest definitely will require us. And for us we think it’s strategic for us to be hosting and we may end up improving our facilities across board.”