AFCON 2016: Great Expectations Ahead
The general mood in Cameroon has moved from pessimism to optimism following the elevated standards of the draws ceremony which augers well for the tourney.
When Cameroon won the bid to host the 2016 women AFCON, there was a general feeling of pessimism about the country’s ability to host the tournament. The fears were entertained by the slow pace of executing of construction work on the sports infrastructure to host the showpiece. However, with the appointment of a new Minister of Sports and Physical Education, things sped up as government minister as well as the Governor of the South West Region multiplied field visits to mount pressure on the contractors. Even when it was clear Cameroon was going to be ready for the competition on time, skeptics still entertained the view the country was not going to be ready and that the hosting right was going to be withdrawn from Cameroon after the CAF inspection mission.
However, the skeptics were silenced when the head of the CAF inspection mission to Cameroon, Leodega Tenga declared at the end of their visit that Cameroon was ready. “Cameroon is ready to host the 2016 AFCON”, he said. “There are good quality hotels. No doubt about the training grounds. The Limbe stadium is one of the best on the continent. The pitches are ready for play even if the tournament was to take place today. We are extremely satisfied with what we saw and I think it is going to be an exceptional tournament in Cameroon”, Leodega Tenga added.
Despite the satisfaction of CAF, the Minister of sports and Physical Education, Bidoung Mkpatt declared that the government and entire citizens of Cameroon were mobilized towards organizing the competition with panache. To match words with action, the minister of Communication declared that though CAF recommends outside broadcasting vans with eight cameras, the country had ordered for two O.B. vans with twenty cameras for the TV production of the tourney. The litmus test on Cameroon’s ability to host the tournament was the draws ceremony on September 18, which Cameroon passed in flying colours as the event was of an unprecedented magnitude as testified by the president of CAF, Issa Hayatou who said it was the first time he was taking part in a draws ceremony in a football competition other than the men’s AFCON.
With about a month to go to the kick off of the competition on November 19, the momentum generated by the draws ceremony continues gathering steam raising great expectations. It is said the draws ceremony was just the tip of the iceberg as compared to what the opening and closing ceremonies of the tourney will be as it has been conferred in the hands of experts from Europe.