World Cup qualifiers: Cranes searching for stadium to host matches

With Namboole stadium disqualified, Nakivubo under construction and St Mary's Kitende's stadium lacking some facilities, the Cranes appear to be running out of options ahead of the World Cup qualifiers which kick off in early June.

Some sports analysts have advised Uganda to seek help from neighbouring Tanzania but others say this would be a costly option.

The Kenya option is out because we are drawn with Harambe Stars, Rwanda and Mali in Group E.

During a FIFA inspection exercise carried out in March 2020, the world football governing body disqualified Uganda’s largest stadium, Mandela National stadium due to poor facilities.

The stadium is Covid-19 holding facility.

When we visited the stadium, it was in a sorry state. Paint had peeled off on some of the walls while the grass appeared overgrown.

The managing director of Namboole, Jamil Ssewanyana said since the facility is Covid-19 emergency centre, it is no longer in their hands. He said the government has promised to renovate it.

“We received a press statement that Namboole would be renovated by government soon but we are still waiting. Meanwhile it is no longer in our hands but in the hands of ministry of Health” Ssewanyana told our reporter in a phone interview.

The second option would have been Nakivubo but it is under construction. St Mary Kitende's stadium was found lacking in various aspects. For instance it did not have floodlights for night games while access roads were in a sorry state.

According to Kavuma Kabenge, a veteran sports administrator, Uganda is in a dilemma.

"We are likely to get to the level of South Sudan which had to hire a stadium from our neighbour, Kenya yet we have had a national stadium for years. It is high time the government thought of prioritising the sports industry now," Kavuma urged.

Mujib Kasule the director Proline FC said holding our matches in Tanzania would come at a big cost since we have to hire the stadium and meet transportation and accommodation costs of players.

"Going to Tanzania, transporting footballers, their accommodation and then the fee for hiring the stadium are all costs. Why not renovate Namboole and host at least the first match in June?" Kasule queried.

Kabenge said government should think of investing in football infrastructure.

He said Uganda would spend at least Shs 1 billion per match played in Tanzania, money that can be used to develop the game.

Kasule said there was still room for bargaining with FIFA.

"Let government write to FIFA asking for permission to at least host the fist game in June at Namboole as renovations are being done and fixing a few things” Kasule said.



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