Local soccer authorities, Fufa, have two pressing issues to address ahead of June’s kickoff of Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification. One of the issues, naming a new Uganda Cranes coach, is fully in their hands, but the other - hosting the games on home turf - remains a little edgy.
The country’s main but otherwise out-of-state facility, the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Namboole was in the first quarter of last year deemed below standards to host either Caf or Fifa matches, while St Mary’s Kitende only passed the continental test.
Hamson Obua, the State Minister for Sport, said this week that the country looked resigned to hosting the World Cup qualifying matches - starting with Mali on June 5-8 - on foreign soil, an embarrassment of impeccable proportions if it happened.
That followed the Government’s failure to fix the issues arising from the Caf and Fifa inspection of Namboole early last year, leaving the slim odds with the privately owned St Mary’s, who are also yet to address their own quota of requirements.
“In the circumstances, Uganda only has St Mary’s Kitende and if the team of inspectors who are currently doing inspection for the World Cup qualifiers do not approve it, I want to put the country on notice that we will have no choice but to host all our World Cup qualifiers in one of the countries outside Uganda,” said Obua.
According to a study done on Namboole after last year’s inspection, it is claimed that about Shs96b is needed to refurbish it.
That said, Fufa head of Communications Ahmed Hussein remains optimistic that something will give, even though nothing of the recommendations made from the said inspections has been implemented at both stadiums.
“Fufa has followed Caf regulations on inspection of the two stadiums again and a report will be submitted,” he told Daily Monitor.
“I can say that I’m 95 per cent hopeful we shall play our games in Uganda. It’s my hope. It’s the federation’s hope too. But let’s wait for the final report for a perfect response on technical issues.”
During last year’s inspection of the two stadiums, Namboole was tasked to improve the playing surface, floodlights, upgrade dressing rooms and work on the media tribune among others if they are to be allowed to host any Caf and World Cup matches again.
Where is the hope founded?
St Mary’s Kitende passed the Caf examination, the reason it has been hosting all continental club and national teams engagements, but fell short on World Cup games hosting.
Fufa, Kitende (no floodlights) and Namboole (just over half off floodlights function) are silently hoping that since all games will be played at 4pm, the country could be given a temporary waiver to host matches as lighting is being fixed.
Namboole are also arguing the case that since there has been no football at the facility for a year, their green has since recovered and is in better state to host international matches. They also have better access roads as compared to Kitende.
However, poor toilets and a despicable excuse of a media tribune remain in their way, while these are Kitende’s points of strength.
For now, Fufa will hope their submitted requests are approved by Fifa, yet they also are clear it is beyond them.
“We shall have to abide by Fifa and the decision taken after the inspection,” added Hussein.
As for Namboole Managing Director Jamil Ssewanyana, he can only guarantee a good playing surface.
But whether he is confident the matches will be hosted there, “That’s for the federation and Confederation of African Football to decide.”
Should the worst become the last resort, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are some of the options.
Conditions for Namboole
- Improve playing surface
- Improve flood lights
- Upgrade dressing rooms
- Work on media tribune
Conditions for St Mary's stadium Kitende
- Work on floodlights
- Work on access
FIFA World Cup- Qatar 2022
Group E fixtures
Match Day 1 (June 5 – 8)
Kenya vs. Uganda
Match Day 2 (June 11 – 14)
Uganda vs. Mali
Match Day 3 (September 1 – 4)
Rwanda vs. Uganda
Match Day 4 (September 5 – 7)
Uganda vs. Rwanda
Match Day 5 (October 6 – 9)
Uganda vs. Kenya
Match Day 6 (October 10 – 12)
Mali vs. Uganda