Minister Ogwang assures Uganda, Namboole will be ready

A recent aerial shot of the Mandela National Stadium shows how far the redevelopment works have moved | Photo Credit: Courtesy

FOOTBALL Minister Ogwang assures Uganda, Namboole will be ready

Shafic Kiyaga 21:42 - 30.03.2023

Speaking on the floor of Parliament, Ogwang reiterated what he had earlier tweeted about, stating that the current redevelopment works at Namboole will be completed by June 1.

Sports Minister for State Hon. Peter Ogwang has reassured the nation that Uganda’s next Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier will be played at the Mandela National Stadium.

This follow general public concern over the failure for Uganda to have a stadium accredited to the standards of African football governing body, CAF.

The situation forced the Uganda Cranes to host their recent qualifier against Tanzania at a neutral ground, 4000 km away in Ismailia, Egypt, which cost the nation around UGX 7.7 million per minute, and also saw the Cranes lose 1-0 to neighbours Tanzania.

Speaking on the floor of Parliament, Ogwang reiterated what he had earlier tweeted about, stating that the current redevelopment works at Namboole will be completed by June 1.

“Madam Speaker, first of all on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Sports, I want to apologize to the entire country for making the Uganda Cranes play in Egypt,” Ogwang said.

“As of now, I want to confirm that our program as a Ministry and particularly a client, we want the stadium ready by first of June.”

“And I have given that (ultimatum) to the contractor to make sure that we have the stadium ready by June 1,” he stressed.

“They must make sure that by that deadline, they have completed the work to make it able for the country to use the stadium and have all CAF requirements fulfilled.”

Ogwang, who is the supervisor of the redevelopment project has also shifted his office to Namboole for the next 10 weeks, and had a deep meeting with the engineers to go over the deadlines

Uganda have played only one game at the Mandela National Stadium in the last four years – a 2-0 victory over Malawi in March 2021 – and have won only two of the seven qualifiers they have played away from the stadium.

The Cranes face two crucial AFCON qualifiers as they bid to return to Africa’s premier club competition after missing out on the 2021 tournament held in Cameroon.

Their home clash against Algeria who have already sealed qualification for the 2023 AFCON to be held in Ivory Coast, possesses huge bearing regards the campaign.

Cranes coach MilutinMichoSredojevic who guided the Cranes to qualification for the 2017 AFCON – after 39 years – said he hoped they can host Algeria’s Fennec Foxes at their spiritual home in Namboole as they search for inspiration.

Speaking at a press conference at the FUFA House in Mengo, FUFA President threw his weight behind Micho’s prayer, while showing confidence in Ogwang’s promise.

“In the last 18 years, Uganda has lost twice at Namboole, against South Africa and against Togo. But in the last four years we have played our home game there only once,” Magogo explained.

“Across Africa, everybody knew that you do not go to the Mandela Stadium and get a result, because it has been our fortress.”

“I have been to Namboole, there is work in progress and I believe we shall get a better facility than the one we had before,” he continued.

“The government has provided the financial requirements, and we have heard the minister giving us assurance that the facility will be ready for the next game.”

“We hope that happens, because it will be a very good boost for our campaign. What I have seen at Namboole, if everything goes according to plan, it will be a good facility,” he stated.

Renovation works at the stadium which are valued at UGX 97 billion (USD 25.6 million) kicked off in January 2022, after CAF and international football body, FIFA had blacklisted the stadium.

The two bodies advised that the stadium should have an upgrade on the general public stands, a new green playing surface, and dressing rooms for both players and officials.

The recommendations also asked for installation of desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections, a modern LED scoreboard and upgrading of floodlights.

The project that has been contracted to the UPDF Engineering Brigade has been handled in two phases which started with the construction of the 4.2km perimeter wall to secure the land on which the facility was supposed to seat from encroachment.

The second phase has seen renovations carried out to improve the plumbing system, pavilion and dressing rooms, as well as installation of up to 40,000 seats in the general stands.

The former playing surfaces was completely ripped off but a new one is yet to be set up. The floodlights system will be improved while there is also a new roof erected at the facility.