At last, CAF approves Asante Kotoko Stadium for Black Stars, Eagles World Cup match
As published by The Guardian yesterday, African football governing body, Confederation of African Football (CAF), has approved the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi, home of Asante Kotoko, as the venue for the Black Stars’ last World Cup qualifier against Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The Guardian had reported that CAF officials inspected Cape Coast Stadium, which was formally earmarked for the match, and Baba Yara Stadium, and indicated that the game would hold in Kumasi if Ghana Football Association failed to get the Cape Coast arena ready for the clash on March 25.
Cape Coast Stadium hosted all of Ghana’s Cameroun 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and their previous World Cup elimination matches. But the stadium, which was rated as Ghana’s current best venue by CAF, suffered a huge blow when government hosted its March 6 Independence parade there, with students, workers and security horses trampling on the pitch.
Pictures of the damage to the pitch went viral shortly after the Independence celebrations, prompting CAF to raise concerns over its ability to host the game.
To ensure that the match was not moved to another country as being touted in some quarters, Ghana Football Association and the National Sports Authority went to work, seeking to get the Cape Coast Stadium ready for their clash against Nigeria.
But reports later emerged that the Ghana FA, was preparing the Kumasi stadium as alternate venue for the game that will decide, which, among the two countries, qualifies for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Speculations were rife that African football governing body, CAF, was planning to move the match to either Benin Republic or Morocco since Cape Coast Stadium is the only venue registered by Ghana for the tie.
However, the Ghana Football Association laid all the speculations to rest, yesterday, when it announced that the (CAF) has granted a one-match approval for Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi to host the game.
In a letter signed by CAF Development Officer, Raul Chipenda and sent to the General Secretary of the Ghana Football Association, Prosper Harrison Addo, and copied to FIFA, CAF said:
“Reference to the CAF stadium inspection conducted to Baba Yara Sports Stadium (Kumasi) for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers playoff round match, Ghana Vs. Nigeria scheduled for the 25th of March 2022, following the analysis of the report we have taken the following decision:
(1) Grant a one-match approval for the use of Baba Yara Sports Stadium (Kumasi) in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers playoff round match Ghana Vs. Nigeria;
“Upon conclusion of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 playoff round match, the stadium is automatically removed from the list of CAF approved stadiums and will only be approved for any subsequent CAF/FIFA international senior national teams matches and CAF men’s interclubs competitions following the implementation of all the CAF remarks.”
The approval did not come without some conditions, which the Ghana FA must meet before the game.
The conditions include (1) installation of new international standard, modern and comfortable officials’ benches at pitch level; (2) adjustment of the floodlight intensity; (3) a minimum of 1200 Lux should be provided all over the pitch, covering uniformly every area of the playing field; increase seating and lockers in the teams dressing rooms to reach (25) persons; (4) installation of completely new modern equipment and materials in the referees dressing rooms and ensure that it is equipped with all the necessary materials and CAF requirements; (5) set up the water system to provide both cold and hot water in the teams and officials dressing room; (6) general refurbishment of the CAF office, installation of modern desks and seats, including the necessary electronic and working equipment; (7) VOC must be available and equipped with all the necessary equipment and requirements; and (8) complete refurbishment of the media tribune, press conference room and media centre, installing new and modern equipment.
CAF said it would designate a stadium inspector to conduct an onsite assessment up till the day of the match to follow the progress of the works in the stadium.
It also said there would be an onsite stadium inspector to conduct further assessment of the facility until the day of the match, adding, “in the event that the above mentioned conditions are not met before the match, financial sanctions shall be imposed on Ghana.”
Ghana will play Nigeria in the first leg of the qualifier on Friday, March 25, 2022 at 7.30 p.m. Ghana time, while the return leg will hold in Abuja on March 29, 2022.