Feature: Can Ghana host the AFCON in six months?

Published on: 13 December 2018

“Ghana is capable of hosting the African Cup of Nations” says Sports Minister Isaac Kwame Asiamah in Koforidua while inspecting works on a Youth Center Project.

This would surely reignite the debate as to whether the nation should put in a bid on the back of ‘successfully’ hosting the African Women’s Championships. I recall the comments of Local Organising Committee (LOC) boss Madam Freda Prempeh following the decision by CAF to strip Cameroon of the 2019 event. She was more than emphatic as to whether Ghana was prepared to bail out the continent. Hear her.

“We are hoping, if they (CAF) can give Ghana the opportunity to host AFCON again, we will be hosting about 24 countries. I believe that with the Accra Sports Stadium re-touched now, we have the Cape Coast Sports Stadium, we have the Essipong Stadium, which needs some renovation. In the Ashanti Region, we can talk of the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, we can talk of Len Clay Sports Stadium. Speaking of training pitches, Paa Joe Sports Stadium can be used. We have Prempeh College. We have one at Opoku Ware (Senior High School). In Accra, we have one at Achimota that can be worked on. El-Wak Stadium has been worked on, PRESEC Legon Park has been worked on. We have another stadium at Tamale, the Aliu Mahama Stadium. So, we can conveniently talk about six, seven or eight stadia that can host the tournament.

“There is no harm in trying. Even if we are given the opportunity to co-host, we would have moved from one level to another. I don’t see why the Normalization Committee and, therefore, the Ministry of Youth and Sports can’t put in a try.”

The Essipong Stadium was not ready enough to host the WAFU. The last time I checked the facility had not undergone any major refurbishment since its construction for CAN 2008. Transport and security should not be a challenge. The Plush hotels serving the oil industry would get the country over the line regarding accommodation. I am not certain about the training pitches for the teams that are likely to be based there. Sadly Essipong would not pass in six months.

Tamale has seen little or no action in recent times and would surely need an upgrade. Transport might not be a challenge. Hotels in the third largest city may also need an upgrade if they are to meet a 4-star or 5-star category. Training pitches would also need a significant upgrade just like security with all the chieftaincy issues in the Northern Region which often overstretches the security services.

Obuasi obviously would have the most arduous task to meet up the standards. From the match venue itself, training facilities and accommodation they are surely some time away from playing the role of a host city. The thinking for many out there is that once the match venue is ready, a host city is good to go. Sorry, that is not the case. Other indicators as stated above all together puts a city in good stead or otherwise.

In six months, I honestly think Ghana as a country would not be ready as hosts for a 24-team tourney. My worry though is that with the financial commitments of that size, countries that once considered bidding for this event would probably reconsider their stance. The financial commitments would make it extremely challenging for many a country on the continent where the daily challenges of education, food and health still holds sway. The North Africans (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt) could always do a good job. South Africa on any day would do a great job. Nigeria if they want to. I have doubts about any of the others bordering their budgets with CAN hosting rights when majority of the facilities could become white elephants after the competition. The days when countries like Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, DR Congo and Ethiopia would bid for the tournament is long gone. They do not need that political “looking face” anymore.

I am however hearing that Ghana according to the same Sports Minister Asiamah, would not be submitting a bid. We better not. It would be great but just like the National Cathedral, we do not need that now. Later would do. The hundreds of millions of dollars would better serve other purposes.

Thanks for reading this peace.

The writer Kwame Dwomoh Agyemang is the Head of Sports at Class 91.3fm and a Communications Lecturer at Pentecost University College and GH Media School.