NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 28 – Venues and infrastructure to host the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) should be ready by September 2017, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced.
The head of CAF’s CHAN organizing Committee Almamy Kabele Camara who is also the CAF senior Vice President and Secretary General Hicham El Amrani have been in the country for the last three days on a preliminary inspection tour.
“If I am asked whether Kenya is ready now, I would say no. But there is still time and that is why we have come for the first visit 18 months to the tournament. Three months before the final tournament, everything should be ready,” El Amrani said as he addressed the press at the end of their tour.
The senior CAF official says of all the venues they have inspected, only Kasarani and Nyayo Stadia fit the bill to host the 16-nation biennial tournament at the moment.
“Kasarani is of international standard and almost ready. Nyayo is also okay and coming second best because it requires work and upgrade but it has an acceptable structure. To be honest, other sites are very challenging because a lot of work needs to be done in terms of infrastructure and the playing surface which is critical to the quality of play. But, we have time to work on it to have top notch facilities,” El Amrani added.
Among the requirements CAF puts in place for hosting CHAN includes four venues for each group during the tournament, each stadium should have at least four changing rooms, at least two training pitches in each venue, internet connectivity and transport infrastructure across all venues, well separated media tribunes and mixed zones, anti-doping rooms in each venue, well working floodlights for HD video production as well as stand by generators in all venues.
Among the stadia inspected by the two CAF officials include the Kinoru Stadium in Meru, Moi Stadium in Kisumu Mombasa County Stadium and Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
He is however confident Kenya will manage to put up all the necessary infrastructure having received assurances from county governors and the national government as well having met with Deputy President William Ruto.
“We are very reassured of what we have seen and discussed. In most of the places we have been welcomed by governors and we also had the opportunity and honor to meet the Deputy President of the Republic who gave us a strong boost of confidence highlighting how important it is for Kenya to stage this tournament,” El Amrani noted.
He added: “We are leaving with a very positive mind and we believe we will have a very successful tournament. The target for us always is doing better than the previous host. It is up to Kenya to do better than Rwanda. We are joining hands now to make sure this tournament delivers what is required.”
Football Kenya Federation has up to June this year to come up with the right framework and plans for the tournament with president Nick Mwendwa saying a Local Organizing Committee will be set up in the next ten days.
A confident Mwendwa said by June 2017, all work will be done and they will do a pre-tournament run to ensure that everything runs in tandem to the requirements.
“This is our biggest moment as a federation and we want to look back and say we did a fantastic job for Kenyans. The job ahead is tough but we are committed to ensure Kenya puts up a good tournament. We are setting up an LOC in the next ten days and we are also working with the government to develop a budget towards all this. By June next year, we should be somewhere,” Mwendwa opined.
Kenya has a huge task to organise a good tournament and the organisers are under pressure to beat what Rwanda did early this year. CAF have described Rwanda as the best host ever of the tournament which comes into the fifth edition in Nairobi in 2018.
Rwanda had a budget of approximately Sh24billion (USD23m) to organise the tournament. They rehabilitated their national stadium, Amahoro while laying up new turfs at three other venues; Huye Stadium, Nyamirambo Stadium and Rubavu Stadium.
The current government in its campaign before assuming office in 2013 had promised five new stadia by 2017 but just one year short of their own deadline none is yet to start.
Kenya’s budget will be read out by the National Treasury in June and Kenyans will be waiting with bated breath to see the allocation the Sports Ministry will be given.
The country is also preparing to host the World Youth Athletics Championship in 2017, giving even more financial headache to the Sports Ministry.