By Allan Damba
Uganda government has come out to warn that the country could host its FIFA World Cup Qualifier games in a neighbouring country if suspensions by CAF and FIFA on Mandela National Stadium Namboole are not lifted.
The football governing bodies in March 2020 barred Namboole from hosting the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers after a thorough inspection of the facility.
The inspection team concluded that the facility was in dire conditions and was not anywhere fit for these international games.
They cited that the toilet facilities, the playing ground, the pavilion and the dressing rooms all were well below the required standards deeming it unfit.
Uganda will have to play home fixtures against neighbours Kenya and Rwanda, plus welcoming West African giant Mali in the group stage round of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.
Uganda has hosted her last two international home fixtures at the St. Mary’s Stadium in Kitende, beating South Sudan and drawing against Burkina Faso in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers.
While appearing in the Parliamentary sports committee, State Minister for Sport Hamson Obua stressed that Uganda’s options lie on either lifting the ban off Namboole or approving St. Mary’s Stadium by CAF and FIFA.
“In the current circumstances, Uganda only has St. Mary’s Kitende,” Obua said.
“If the inspection for the world cup qualifiers does not approve it, I want to put the country on notice that the country will have no option but to host the world cup qualifying matches in one of the countries outside Uganda.”
Following the Namboole ban, Minister of Education and Sports, First Lady Janet Kataaha Museveni, instructed the transport and works ministry to conduct a needs assessment and renovate the stadium.
However, Obua said that Namboole in this year’s budget falls under the unfunded priorities because the indicative figures fall just under the required UGX 96 billion needed for the renovation.