By Basil Afoni
Cameroon will be hosting the first edition of the tournament that has been moved from January-February to June-July and has been expanded to 24 teams, according to new CAF decisions.
Before the CAF symposium in Morocco, Cameroon is said to already been behind schedule and is facing the prospect of having to pull out. Cameroon’s unpreparedness to host the competition in 2019 was a hot topic of discussion.
This was, however, clarified when the Minister of Sports, Ismael Bidoung Mpkatt, made it clear that the nation was ready to host the continent’s prestigious jamboree come 2019.
“I would like to reassure national and international opinion that the Government is fully committed to fulfilling CAF’s specifications and, to date, no CAF mission has reported any delay in preparations,” said the Cameroon Sports Minister, Bidoung Mpkatt.
With the teams in the competition increased to 24 and Cameroon Government behind schedule in the level of preparedness, this will lead to the Government borrowing more money from foreign bodies in order to meet up with the standard of hosting the event.
Cameroon has already borrowed so much money from financial bodies abroad for these projects. This will push the already indebted country into more debts as they have an image to protect. According to the Government in its initial bid, the competition was to take place in the cities of Garoua, Bafoussam, Douala and Yaoundé.
Limbe now benefits from the changes by being one of the cities to host the tournament come June 2019.
With, at least, six stadiums needed instead of four for the 2019 tournament, competition will take place at the Omnisport Stadium in Bafoussam, Limbe Omnisport Stadium, Roumde-Adjia Stadium in Garoua, Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde (ready) and the Japoma and Olembe Stadia still under construction.
However, one of the worries for Cameroon preparedness is the construction of the two new stadia; Olembe and Japoma in Yaounde and Douala, respectively.
The construction of these two stadia, a dual motorway linking the economic capital and the political capital, are all ongoing at a snail pace.
Nevertheless, the Italian Company, Piccini, that won the contract for the construction of the 60,000-seat capacity stadium in Olembe has reassured authorities that the football infrastructure will be ready by October 2018.
Beyond The Stadiums
Roads, hospitals, hotels, airports, transportation and the security aspects around and within host cities are also key issues in the organisation of this competition.
There is a need for greater security on the streets, an enlargement of the transport network, creation of new roads designed to relieve traffic congestion, build or renovate hotels. All this is strictly necessary in a country that is known for its deficient infrastructures and services.
Security is one of the key issues. In a host city like Garoua in the North Region, security will need to be at its best in order to keep away trouble caused by Boko Haram. As far as this is concerned, the Government will spare no effort to strengthen the system already in place.
As for the hotels, more emphasis will be laid in the cities of Bafoussam and Garoua, since these cities are yet to host an international event.
Hotel infrastructures in the cities of Yaounde, Limbe and Douala are in standard level after two hosted the African Women Championship and Douala is known for its classic hotels.
Meanwhile, in the domain of airports, there is little of no problem. The Garoua and Bafoussam airports are as functional as the Yaounde-Nsimalen and Douala international airports.
A greater problem will be that of road infrastructures in order to ease traffic.
Regarding hospital infrastructures, Cameroon has reference hospitals with technical platforms complying with CAF requirements in the cities of Yaounde, Douala, Buea and Limbe.
This aspect will also need to be improved in the cities of Garoua and Bafoussam to meet the needs of the supporters when the event starts.
However, a successful AFCON come 2019 for Cameroon, will see Cameroon making so much financial gain.