Authorities say yes, but many in doubt as matchday nears
A preliminary inspection team from the Confederation of the African Football on Saturday concluded a visit to the Independence Stadium to assess its readiness for the next Afcon qualifiers against Congo on 4 September.
A second inspection will follow next month when it would be formally announced whether Gambia can host Congo in a crucial deciding match.
According to the Gambia Football Federation GFF the Caf official Muhammad Feizal Sidat, Head of Professional Football, conducted a thorough inspection of the Stadium’s exterior and interior, including the physical structure, the competition area, field of play, media areas, VIP/VVIP and the stands amongst other significant areas.
Speaking at the end of the inspection, Mr. Sidat acknowledged the significant efforts made by The Gambia, while calling on the authorities for more improvement on the recommendations highlighted during the tour in order to meet CAF required standards to lift the ban in their next inspection visit.
The second Vice President of the GFF, Mr. Ebou Faye expressed gratitude to Caf for honouring the invitation to conduct the preliminary inspection to assess the level of preparedness. “All Gambians want us to play here and the Ministry is doing everything possible to make sure we play here. We are hopeful and we will continue to work very hard so that we get the approval [even if] temporarily so that we can play our home match that can make us qualify to the Afcon,” Mr. Faye said.
Marcel Mendy, the execution director of the National Sports Council thanked Caf for accepting the invitation to conduct the preliminary inspection. “For the Government and the GFF, we all want to play here so it was important for us to invite Caf to come and conduct the preliminary inspection and advise us further so that by the time they come for the final inspection, we would have gotten almost all the requirements,” he asserted.
However, many Gambians are still on the edge about the possibility of the facility being ready in 55 days time when the match will be played. In the event that the stadium could not be ready in time, the match would almost certainly be played in Morocco, because most Senegalese grounds are not Caf approved either. The only one, Diamniadio is believed to be far too expensive.