How Egypt Is Preparing for the 2019 African Cup
After Cameroon was stripped of its right to host the 2019 African Cup of Nations football tournament, both Egypt and South Africa made bids to replace the West African country. Egypt was ultimately chosen to host the tournament which will run from June 21st to July 19th as South Africa was not going to be ready on time.
Since then, Egypt has been in a race against time to finish preparations on schedule. Many of the chosen stadiums needed upgrades to be suitable for hosting an international football tournament. These six stadiums were Cairo International Stadium, Air Defense Stadium, Al Salam Stadium, Alexandria Stadium, Suez Stadium, and Ismailia Stadium.
A major refurbishment of Cairo International Stadium has been underway for quite some time. Renovations of the Pharaoh’s home ground included replacing the grass as well as changing all 74,100 seats.
“Only minor details left before the stadium appears in its final shape for the tournament as part of the plan to renovate Egyptian stadiums,” the local organizing committee said in a statement on its official Facebook page on Tuesday.
There have also been major checks on both the Ismailia and Suez stadiums by many government officials.
It is worth mentioning that the national mascot has been revealed as well. In two weeks, Tut, who is a child pharaoh named after King Tutankhamun, will be by the Pharaoh’s side cheering as they seek their eighth championship title.
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has also announced that this will be one of the most significant moments of the country’s football history as fans will be allowed to attend all matches. In fact, 30,000 fans were given the green light to attend Egypt’s friendly match against Tanzania at Borg Al-Arab Stadium next Thursday.
This was not the last of the surprises, as just yesterday, the Ministry of Transportation announced three vital underground metro stations of Cairo Metro’s third line will be inaugurated on Saturday to help fans travel to different stadiums for the games. These stations will be Haroun El-Rashid, El-Shams Club, and Alf Maskan stations.
With all these preparations and the many more to come, CAF’s President Ahmad Ahmad praised the Egyptian government for their swift handling and urged to wrap up all preparations as soon as possible, ensuring a successful tournament.