TANZANIA is ready for the influx of at least 600 people, who will descend in the country for the CECAFA regional qualifiers of the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations.
The qualifiers for the 2019 Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations will for the first time be played on a zonal basis (regional), to determine the seven teams to join host Tanzania for next year’s final tournament.
The decision, one of the key elements among the resolutions of the first ever CAF African Football Symposium in July 2017 in Rabat (Morocco), was approved by the CAF Executive Committee.
CECAFA regional qualifiers will kick off on Saturday and climax on August 26th this year at the Uhuru Stadium, National Stadium and Azam’s Chamazi Complex in Dar es Salaam.
Ten countries will tussle out for the available one CECAFA slot in the qualifiers of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations.
Hosts Tanzania, Serengeti Boys will be joined by Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Sudan in group A, while Group B has Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Djibouti.
And, in run up to the qualifiers’ kick off, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Suzan Mlawi, said yesterday that the government was doing everything possible to host a memorable tournament.
“Hosting a successful regional qualifier is vital for the country, because it will prove that we are more than ready to host the next year’s final,” she said.
She assured the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that all logistics and venues will be in good shape prior to the kick of the next years’ finals, saying the Local Organising Committee (LOC) was working on recommendations made by CAF and EUFA experts of the standard of venues and other logistics.
Mlawi said her ministry requires 1.6bn/- for refurbishment of the National and Uhuru Stadium. She said in this financial year, her ministry has set aside 100m/- for the project, saying the government would solicit support from private partners to support the venue renovations.
“National Stadium requires minor refurbishment because it was recently renovated with support from SportPesa Tanzania Limited but Uhuru Stadium pitch will require major renovation,” she said.
Uhuru Stadium was laid with artificial turf, which according to the Director of Sports in the Ministry, Yusuf Singo was to last for ten years, but now 11 years have elapsed without any artificial turf replacement.
She also thanked the management of Azam for agreeing to foot all costs for the renovation of Chamazi Complex ahead of the finals that will hugely promote our country.
“The finals will provide a good platform for the country to market its tourist attractions, boost economic growth as well as promote our traditions,” she said.
Vice-Chairman of the 2019 Under- 17 finals Local Organizing Committee (LOC), who is also the Chairman of the National Sports Council (NSC), Leodegar Tenga said they are ready to learn from CECAFA Organising Committee, with special scrutiny be on how to organise tournament on such high status.
However, he insisted that it was important for football fans to turn up in their huge numbers to support the qualifiers.
“Venue atmosphere is very important in staging a successful tournament …we will have to device special strategy to lure fans to come and witness matches in their huge numbers.”
On his part, Director of Sports in the Ministry, Yusuf Singo said Tanzania is bracing to host bigger international events.