• VAR debuts in Nigeria March 29
Yesterday, officials of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) took a final look at the state of Cape Coast Stadium to ascertain if it would be suitable to host the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier between the Black Stars and Super Eagles.
The CAF officials had visited the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi, for a similar inspection following viral reports that the Cape Coast Stadium was in bad shape.
Cape Coast Stadium hosted all of Ghana’s Cameroun 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and their previous World Cup elimination matches. But the stadium, which was rated as Ghana’s current best venue by CAF, suffered a huge blow when the government hosted its March 6 Independence parade there, with students, workers and security horses trampling on the pitch.
Pictures of the damage to the pitch went viral shortly after the Independence celebrations, prompting CAF to raise concerns over its ability to host the game.
The Ghana Football Association and National Sports Authority in the country face a race against time to get the Cape Coast Stadium ready for their clash against Nigeria.
According to a Ghanaian journalist, Benedict Mensah, the Ghana sports authority has been working day and night to put the stadium back in shape and with less than 10 days to the game, they hope that all would be well for the game.
Mensah revealed that CAF officials also visited the Kumasi Stadium to check out its facilities with a view to moving the game there if Cape Coast Stadium fails to meet the standard required for a game of the World Cup magnitude.
“The Kumasi Stadium was recently refurbished for Asante Kotoko matches and so, it should be good to host the qualifier. However, with the level of work at the Cape Coast Stadium, I don’t think there will be need to move the match to another venue.”
On the reported move to take the game to Benin Republic, Mensah said that could only happen if CAF finds all the stadia in Ghana not good enough for international matches.
“Accra Stadium can host the game, but I think it will be the last resort. In any case, CAF will announce its decision either today (yesterday) or tomorrow morning.”
According to reports, the Baba Yara Stadium was not submitted to FIFA as a possible venue for the fixture, a move that should have been made by the dictates of the rules, 90 days before kickoff. Ghana may, however, enjoy FIFA’s discretion to approve the stadium for use but in the absence of a positive response from the football governing body, the Black Stars may be forced to choose to play their home World Cup leg among Cameroun, Benin and Morocco.
Meanwhile, FIFA has effected minor changes in the list of match officials for this month’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 playoff showdown between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Black Stars of Ghana.
In a fresh appointment sheet sent to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Moroccans Rédouane Jiyed (referee), Lahsen Azgaou (assistant referee 1), Mostafa Akarkad (assistant referee 2) and Samir Guezzaz (fourth official) are retained for the first leg duel in Cape Coast, but Mandu Humphrey of Uganda has now replaced South African David Junse Van Vuuren as a security officer.
Bernie Raymond Blom from The Netherlands will be the VAR official, to be assisted by compatriot Rob Dieperink, while Athanse Nkubito from Rwanda will be the referee assessor. Gregorio Badupa from Guinea-Bissau will serve as match commissioner and Victor Lawrence Lual from South Sudan will be the general coordinator.
For the return leg in Abuja, FIFA has replaced former FIFA referee, Essam Abdelfattah Abdelhamid, who was to serve as referee assessor. His place will now be taken by Senegal’s Badara Diatta, another former FIFA referee.
Sadok Selmi (Tunisian; referee); Khalil Hassani (Tunisia; assistant referee 1); Attia Amsaaed (Libyan; assistant referee 2) and Haythem Guirat (Tunisian; fourth official) are retained, as well as Frenchmen Jérôme Brisard (VAR) and Willy Louis Delajod (assistant VAR); Prince Kai Saquee (Sierra Leonean; match commissioner) and Kabelo Bosilong (South African; general coordinator).