CAF saved us from shame!

Many Ghanaians cart-wheeled for joy the other day when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) settled on the Baba Yara Sports Stadium for the panicky Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier between the Black Stars and the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

CAF had rejected the Cape Coast Sports Stadium for its poor nature, the edifice having been used for the nation’s 65th Independence Day Anniversary – leaving the pitch woefully diminished in quality, in the process.

Having earlier confirmed the Cape Coast stadium as venue for the game – which was turned down, CAF had threatened to take the game to our sub-regional neighbours Benin or far north in Morocco. And, Ghanaian football fans dreaded the thought of having to travel hundreds of miles away for the game.

It had to take some exceptional diplomatic gymnastics for CAF to accept the Kumasi venue, and save the nation from shame – albeit with a myriad of conditions to meet.

Interestingly, we are told the Baba Yara stadium, which was renovated less than a year ago, was not even in fine fettle – and it had to take the magnanimity and high-mindedness of CAF, to ‘temporarily’ accept the venue. What!

What happened to our culture of maintenance?

It is increasingly becoming clearer and clearer everyday that the maintenance culture is very alien to us as a people. Successive governments and key stakeholders have spoken to this very topic, but it always remains mere talk with little or no action at all. Painfully, we do not seem to have any level of maintenance consciousness. It is shameful!

That the Baba Yara Stadium has been granted only a one-match approval for yesterday’s first leg qualifier is a huge dent on our image as a football nation!

Read the CAF letter to the Ghana Football Association (GFA) in part: “… upon conclusion of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 play-off round match, the stadium is automatically removed from the list of CAF approved stadiums and will only be approved for any subsequent CAF/FIFA international senior national teams matches and CAF men’s inter-clubs competitions, following the implementation of all the CAF remarks.”

Again, this is discreditable!

Come to think about this, among the things that CAF ordered to be fixed is the water system to provide both cold and hot water in the teams and officials’ dressing room; general refurbishment of the CAF office, installation of modern desks and seats, including the necessary electronic and working equipment; complete refurbishment of the media tribune, press conference room and media centre and installing new and modern equipment.

Questions that many have asked is whether we did not have these in place as the standard demanded or they have just gone awful?

The National Sports Authority (NSA) is the body mandated to manage and maintain the national edifice, and must be alive to its responsibilities and not to allow itself to be turned into a fire brigade.

Ghana, we were told, spent close to $250,000 to rehabilitate the Accra Sports Stadium before the 2018 Total Women’s AFCON was held at the venue. It is nearly four years since that event was hosted. Today, take a trip to the stadium and see whether we have done justice to ourselves. We can do better than what the Accra stadium looks at the moment.

As we express our appreciation to CAF for its magnanimity in accepting the Kumasi stadium, let us wake up from our slumber – be on the qui vive, so that we do not find ourselves in such tight corner again.

We are bigger than that – and we do not have to allow ourselves to be subjected to such embarrassment and global ridicule. Never again!

PlainTalk With John Vigah

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