Saturday, September 23, 2023

Botswana hopeful as CAF inspection looms

The fate of Botswana’s 2027 AFCON hosting bid is coming close to being decided and the bid committee is busy lobbying for support to bring it home.

Last week a high-powered delegation from Botswana descended on the CAF Ordinary General Assembly in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire to lobby fellow African countries for support. The delegation was made up of delegates from the Ministry of Sports led by minister Tumiso Rakgare, the Bid Committee and representatives from Reuben Reddy Architects.

In an interview with Sunday Standard Sports, Botswana’s bid spokesperson Tuelo Serufho says the expedition to Abidjan was successful. He says the Botswana delegation was welcomed by CAF executive members.

“It went well. We were able to meet with all CAF Executive Committee members with the exception of three. Overall, we were well received and got good reviews about our bid book and also our professional approach to the bidding process,” Serufho says.

Despite the warm reception from the CAF executive, the bid spokesperson says they expect a stiff competition from other bidding countries. “Competition is quite stiff as there are four other bids. However, we believe we have a very compelling bid and that several other factors work in our favour.”

In Botswana’s favour, the country has never hosted AFCON finals and has the smallest population of all the bidding countries. All this aligns well with CAF’s position of giving opportunities to smaller countries. Other factors making Botswana’s bid more compelling are its credentials around safety, peacefulness, low corruption and good economy.

Despite the unexpected emergence of the Senegal and Nigeria/Benin bids, which Botswana’s bidco was not aware, Serufho is still optimistic things will work in our favour. “Indeed we initially were not aware that Senegal as well and Nigeria/Benin were also in the race for 2027. However, that does not change our position of believing we will win this bid; our proposition is very good and can beat any competition,” an optimistic Serufho adds.

Meanwhile, the CAF inspection team is expected in Botswana this coming week to examine the country’s ability to host AFCON 2027. The CAF inspection team is expected to tour the country inspecting existing stadia and green land earmarked for building stadia to gauge and measure the country’s ability of the hosting the African 2027 football showpiece.

The inspection follows Botswana’s successful submission of a bid book with CAF. The Reuben Reddy Architects are expected to go along with the CAF inspectors explaining everything to them and giving details where the inspectors may need clarity. The verdict of who will host the Afcon 2027 finals is expected to be announced later this year in September.

“Construction of facilities will start immediately after winning the bid. We cannot construct before knowing the outcome of the bid. If we are awarded the bid everything should start in earnest to avoid any delays and meet set deadlines,” Bid Committee chairman Ashford Mamalodi said in earlier interviews.

New stadia are ear marked for Maun, Kasane and Greater Gaborone with renovations of other existing stadia. The 2027 bid if won by Botswana is expected to improve on infrastructure and create more jobs for the unemployed.


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