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FUFA Selects Two Uganda Premier League Fixtures To Test Namboole Stadium Readiness :: Uganda Radionetwork
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FUFA Selects Two Uganda Premier League Fixtures To Test Namboole Stadium Readiness

Uganda Cranes is set to face Botswana and Algeria in match day 3 and 4 respectively of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June 2024, and FUFA is eager to have these crucial fixtures played on home soil as opposed to the previous international engagements that were held away from home due to the unavailability of a suitable stadium.
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Two Uganda Premier League matches will be played at Mandela National Stadium- Namboole as part of the measures to test its readiness after two years under renovation.

These selected fixtures will feature the traditional Kampala derby between KCCA FC and SC Villa, along with Bidco FC facing Kitende-based club Vipers SC. The two games will be played on 1st May, 2024. One game will be played during the day while the other will be played at night. 

The Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) says the two games will serve as part of the test events before the official re-opening of the stadium. The test events are some of the requirements by the Confederation of African Football- CAF before the greenlight is given to host international games.

Earlier this month, URN reported that; despite CAF’s recent inspection report that declared the Stadium it unfit to host an internationally recognized match, FUFA was in negotiations with CAF to accept Namboole to host the upcoming Uganda Cranes World Cup qualifying fixtures provided that the highlighted issues were worked on before June.

The CAF report highlighted several deficiencies, including relocating the media tribunal, addressing the unfinished ceiling, upgrading floodlights, improving the VVIP section, and reducing seating capacity from 40,818 to 38,000 due to visibility issues caused by structural posts.

But, then, FUFA Deputy CEO in charge of Football Decolas Kiiza told URN that while CFA had queried a couple of things, the biggest hindrance was the floodlights, and if sorted, the stadium was fit to host matches.

“We are trying to negotiate given the concrete program now because the major hindrance now is the floodlights. It is the only factor that cannot easily be met. So until they are here you can’t guarantee anything, so we are negotiating whether they can allow us to work with that revised program of completion.” Kiiza earlier told URN

Uganda Cranes is set to face Botswana and Algeria in match day 3 and 4 respectively of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June 2024, and FUFA is eager to have these crucial fixtures played on home soil as opposed to the previous international engagements that were held away from home due to the unavailability of a suitable stadium.

The last time Uganda Cranes hosted a game at Namboole was in November 2019 before CAF and the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) inspectors closed it saying the facility was substandard and deemed unfit for any international game.

The two bodies found the pitch, toilets, pavilion, and dressing rooms at the Mandela Stadium in an appalling state, declaring it unfit to host any continental and international match and recommending an overhaul. The government subsequently embarked on the renovation project in February 2023, with the contract given to the UPDF Engineering Brigade.

However, Uganda Cranes that had become homeless quickly found solace in St. Mary’s stadium-Kitende, a private facility owned by Lawrence Mulindwa for nearly two years. However, even this alternative stadium failed to meet CAF's requirements in 2023, forcing Uganda Cranes to play home games away from home.

Subsequently, FUFA was forced to start hosting Uganda Cranes home games away from home. First, Uganda Cranes was compelled to host Tanzania at the Suez Canal Authority Stadium in Egypt after St. Mary’s stadium Kitende which had been Uganda Cranes home ground since 2021 failed the CAF requirements to host the Uganda Cranes’ matches.

Also, in June 2023 when Namboole renovation had taken one and half years, Uganda Cranes was once again compelled to host its African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying match against Algeria in Cameroon after FUFA inspected the Mandela National Stadium and confirmed that it was not yet ready to host the qualifiers.

Speaking to Journalists on Wednesday at FUFA House in Mengo, FUFA Executive Committee Member Rogera Byamukama said a test match is the last phase that tests the readiness of the stadium before it is given the green light to host International games.

He also explained that they opted for KCCA FC Vs SC Villa and BUL Vs Vipers because three of the four teams that are participating have the biggest following, and also are in huge competition for this year’s silverware.    

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