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Ready in just three months
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 17 - 01 - 2019

On Monday, the Egyptian Football Association announced that several stadiums are currently being renovated, especially Cairo Stadium, in preparation for the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be held in summer.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli has visited Cairo Stadium twice in 10 days to follow up the work being done on the stadium which will host the opening and closing ceremonies.
The EFA had asked the African Confederation (CAF) to bring forward the date of the opening game, from Saturday 15 June to Friday 14 June in order to ensure a full house for the kick-off of the one-month event. CAF has not yet replied to the EFA's proposal.
And in order to start renovations at Al-Salam Stadium, home venue for Ahly Club league matches, the EFA had suggested to the club's officials to move its matches to the Military Academy Stadium to allow work in Al-Salam.
EFA board member Ahmed Megahed announced after the Monday meeting that the association did not discuss excluding Ismailia Stadium from the tournament's venues following riots in the stadium last week during an African Champions League match. Rumours had it that the EFA would replace Ismailia Stadium with another because of the fan violence. According to Megahed, CAF is responsible for selecting the tournament's venues “which is why we didn't put the issue on the table during our meeting,” Megahed told the media.
On the other hand, Minister of Youth and Sports Ashraf Sobhi, who accompanied Madbouli on the inspection tour of Cairo Stadium, said fans and the participating teams need not worry about the preparations because everything will be ready, ahead of time. “Egypt was named as host of the AFCON in exceptionally surprising circumstances, which we all know. Building up for a big tournament such as the AFCON normally requires at least two years but we'll do it in just three months. We already have an excellent and solid infrastructure which will make it easier for us to finish in such a short time. We just need to restore and update the stadium's facilities such as lighting, the stands and media tribunes to meet the requirements,” Sobhi told reporters.
Cameroon was initially chosen to host the AFCON but CAF withdrew the choice, stating Cameroon was not ready to host the expanded 24-team tournament.
Egypt won the bid earlier this month, garnering more votes than its sole competitor South Africa.
Sobhi said match tickets will be available online and will go on sale right after the draw scheduled on 4 April which will take place at the Sphynx, Pyramids Plateau.


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