All is on monitor for African soccer’s biennial showpiece, the Africa Cup of Nations, based on organisers within the Ivory Coast who’re assured their safety measures will forestall a repeat of the tragedy that overshadowed the 2021 version in Cameroon.
Ivory Coast could also be one of many heavyweights in African soccer however this can be solely the second time they host the finals, after 1984 when the match featured simply eight groups as a substitute of the 24 this time spherical.
The competitors runs from January 13 to February 11 with Senegal defending the title they received for the primary time after beating Egypt on penalties.
It retains its 2023 moniker regardless of the choice by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in July final yr to postpone it from the unique dates within the northern hemisphere summer time owing to fears over staging matches throughout the wet season.
Around $1.5 billion has been invested which incorporates funding improved roads — principally an entire overhaul of the 350-kilometre coastal street which hyperlinks Abidjan — the financial capital — to the port metropolis of San Pedro, chopping in half the journey time between the 2.
Aside from the exterior safety threat posed by jihadists primarily based in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso, Ivorian authorities have moved to quell fears over crowd management which has been the supply of most nervousness as a consequence of what occurred in Yaounde two years in the past.
The last-16 conflict between hosts Cameroon and the Comoros resulted in eight dying and dozens injured as a consequence of a crush as house followers piled in to look at.
Youssouf Kouyate, director-general of the Ivory Coast police, advised AFP they’d measures in place for all six stadia to keep away from an identical tragedy — with organisers anticipating 1.5 million followers from exterior the nation.
“We are going to open the gates to the stadia very early, we will ensure the spectators form an orderly queue so they can enter the stadium without any trouble,” he stated.
“We are going to demand spectators come early.”
There can be some 17,000 troopers and police deployed for the match and a couple of,500 stadium employees.
“It is after all not the first big sporting event Ivory Coast has had to organise,” stated Kouyate.
“We hosted the Francophone Games (in 2017). We are calm.”
Fit for objective
It was not so calm just a few months in the past when to the embarrassment of the organisers torrential rain flooded the pitch on the 60,000-capacity Ebimpe Olympic Stadium which had been specifically constructed at monumental price for the match.
The stadium is because of host 10 matches together with the opening sport between Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau on January 13, and the ultimate on February 11.
The authorities put it all the way down to a freak downpour however all the identical it resulted in Patrick Achi and Paulin Danho being faraway from their posts as prime minister and sports activities minister respectively.
Achi’s successor Robert Beugre Mambe — who additionally assumed the position of sports activities minister — has been charged with “organising the most beautiful Africa Cup of Nations in history”.
Three months on from the disgrace of the flooding it seems below Mambe’s stewardship the pitch is now proof against an identical disaster.
“We were all disturbed by what we saw,” stated Idriss Diallo, president of the Ivorian soccer federation, initially of December while sitting in a stand on the stadium with rain tipping down.
“But the authorities took the matter in hand and the pitch has been completely relaid.”
“It is fit for purpose,” he added.
There have been considerations that the principle stadium plus the 5 others for use in Abidjan, Yamoussoukro, Bouake, San Pedro and Korhogo will turn out to be white elephants.
Organisers hope that the First Division groups — the vast majority of whom play in Abidjan — will entice bigger crowds as a result of proximity of the stadia.
Diallo thinks there will even be a knock-on impact globally.
“Thanks to our stadia we will become a hub for teams in the region who do not have such facilities,” he stated.
“Before they all went to play in Morocco, now they will come here.”