AFCON 2021: Olembe May Not Host Opening Match, See Why

The Confederation of African Football, Caf, has threatened to move the opening match of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON 2021, from the 60-seater Olembe stadium. 

Cameroon is preparing to welcome 24 teams during the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations from January 9 to February 6, 2022 in six host sites. 

“Regarding the Olembe stadium, you should know that if everything is not settled by November 30, 2021, the opening match will take place elsewhere. Arrangements have been made in this direction, and it would be unfortunate for the Organising Committee, CAF, and Cameroon. I trust that you will cooperate effectively to ensure that the above deadline and others are met. We are available to arrange a video conference if necessary”, Veron Mosengo-Omba, Caf Secretary General writes to the president of the local organizing committee, COCAN.

Here is why CAF wants to move the venue of the opening game. 

Barely 50 days to the start of the continental football jamboree, photo reports indicate that work does not seem to progress at Olembe since the last CAF visit on October 22, 2021. 

The outer perimeter fence is yet to be installed, so the African football body has urged the local organizing committee to ensure this is done by December 10, 2021. Also, CAF has asked COCAN to put in place a stadium management team.

CAF says the turf maintenance programme remains inconsistent to date. 

Olembe is not the only stadium posing a problem to COCAN. 

The Bangou site is impracticable, even for training sessions, and the work is unfinished, Caf unveiled. The football body has promised to send a professional pitch maintenance team this week to carry out the necessary work.

Covid-19 Protocol 

CAF is worried that Cameroon does not have a national database indicating the requirements for the stadium attendance within the framework of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic (maximum number of spectators, sanitary rules, etc.).

To Caf, without the basics, the body cannot specify its arrangements which will still have to be validated by its medical committee and the operational teams before the start of ticket sales scheduled from December 1, 2021. 

CAF is not happy that the local organizing committee launched the recruitment of volunteers without their approval. Also, the football body frowns at the Logo misuse and low-quality designs without Caf approval. 

There are other exigencies such as facilitation for custom clearance for Caf goods and equipment which COCAN has not yet communicated to Caf.