Wednesday, August 13, 2008

2010 African Cup of Nations: Angola Prepares


It seems like just yesterday we were blogging about the finals of the African Cup of Nations tournament in Ghana.

But things move quickly in the world of football.

Today, news that the host nation of the 2010 African Cup of Nations, Angola, is confident their infrastructure will be ready in time for the tournament.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) seems to agree after an inspection team dropped in and snooped around.

The country sees the football tournament as a catalyst for change.

Much of Angola's infrastructure was destroyed by a 27-year civil war. Therefore, it's seen by some as an ambitious choice to host the Cup.

After only six years of peace, many roads remain poor, some still have land mines in them, there are few hotels and the country is hard to to get to for tourists.

But things can only get better.

If the amount of building that is going on in the capital of Luanda and the other main provinces is anything to go by, the competition is definitely leading to a rebirth of facilities.

Manuel Mariano, Angola's director of information and publicity for COCAN (the Cup's organizing committee), told the BBC: "We are a country in re-construction. We are a country in movement; the war was over six years ago.

"And you can notice what the changes are, that this country is going through, from North to South, from West to East and in the center. Therefore this is a task that the Angolans will perform and, like the President says, we will have a successful Nations Cup."

All over the country, and particularly in Luanda, new hotels are being built, and key roads linking the provincial capitals are being rebuilt, largely by Chinese construction companies.

MY POV: The Chinese have a hand in many public works projects in Africa, don't they? There's been a lot made of this as the burgeoning superpower makes inroads in the last great untouched economic expanse in the world.

The Chinese built the new stadiums and have the contracts to build the four other new stadiums in Luanda, Lubango, Cabinda and Benguela.

The Luanda stadium, which is in a new area of suburban development about 15 miles from the city center, will seat 50,000.

According to the CAF inspectors, this project and the stadiums in Benguela and Lubango are all running to schedule.

The stadium in Cabinda, however, is proving a little trickier.

Cabinda's geographical location, part of Angola but an isolated province within the DR of Congo, has hampered the building work.

The project is running around 20 days behind schedule, although this time is expected to be recovered over the next few months.

More than 4,000 foreign visitors are expected to come to the 2010 tournament and a lot of work is being done to enhance the capacity of the regional airports and rebuild sections of the railway destroyed during the civil war.

One concern is access to visas for visiting fans. COCAN say it is now entering the second stage of tournament preparation and this will look at the logistics for tourists and transportation.

Tickets will be pre-sold, the committee said, and a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to prepare the country for the influx of visitors, the group added.

The CAF inspectors are due back in January. Until then, it's all hands to the cement mixers.

MY POV: Thanks to the BBC for the majority of this article.

Once again, football plays a part in restoring civic pride and establishing a sense of collective unity in a land ravaged by infighting.

One only hopes Angola gets their infrastructure in place before the Cup and everything goes smoothly.

2010 is shaping up to be quite the year in African football, no?

15 comments:

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