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Is Angola ready to host a major football tournament?

Louisa Compton | 09:58 UK time, Wednesday, 30 September 2009

angola_stadium_540x299.jpgThis story comes from our sport reporter, Matt Williams:

Friday of this week marks 100 days from the start of the African Cup of Nations held in Angola.

Ghana and the Ivory Coast are among the sides already qualified so the likes of Chelsea's Michael Essien, Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou will be travelling to the Southern African nation alongside Kolo Toure of Manchester City with Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor still hopeful of qualifying.

But is the country ready to host a major football tournament?

A billion dollars have been spent trying to get the stadiums up to scratch, building new roads and refitting the airports. But my understanding is that, of the four venues that will stage the event next January - it will be a race against time to get at least one of them ready.


Work continues in Luanda, Angola's capital on a 40,000-seater stadium. Sources within the country tell me that although work is continuing day and night on this venue, it's likely to go to the wire. The authorities in the country are reluctant to let anyone near the stadia but these pictures taken around ten days ago suggest there's a long way to go.

There is also a chronic shortage of hotels - particularly in Luanda which has just half a dozen. These are all now block-booked. The authorities clearly aren't expecting many fans from the competing countries. Those that manage to get a visa - which can take upwards of 8 weeks - can expect to pay some of the highest prices in the world. A very basic hotel room will set you back £360 a night.

Travelling around the country can also be problematic. The Foreign Office warns against independent travel to Angola for the African Cup of Nations. It also points out that all of the Angola airlines have been banned by the EU because they don't conform to safety requirements.

The country's readiness and lack of infrastructure are not the only concerns. One of the venues is in the province of Cabinda. Here the Foreign Office warns of violent incidents against foreigners. This is an oil-rich area and until recently has been the site of armed conflict between government forces and a separatist movement called FLEC.

Although the government claims this conflict came to an end in 2006, Human Rights Watch reports sporadic guerilla attacks in the area. This presents clear security concerns as the 25,000-seater stadium in Cabinda will be staging games featuring the cream of Africa's football talent.


  • 1. At 11:30am on 30 Sep 2009, iForeigner wrote:

    1. Angola is not in East Africa but in Southern Africa, on the Atlantic coast.
    2. "A billion dollars have been spent trying to get the stadiums up to scratch". No! Four brand new stadiums were built from scratch.
    3. TAAG, the national air carrier, has resumed its flights to the EU after being certified to do so.
    4. Brixton (London) or Moss Side (Manchester) are far more dangerous than Cabinda.

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  • 2. At 11:38am on 30 Sep 2009, zelda wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 3. At 11:43am on 30 Sep 2009, ingeniousnewsfan wrote:

    TAAG is still banned in Europe - it has been allowed to fly to Portugal but that is it, and ALL other Angolan airlines remain banned.

    the stadium in Luanda is 50,000.

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  • 4. At 11:49am on 30 Sep 2009, carrie wrote:

    I have always thought that research is an essential part of preparing an article and the main basis of thoughtful and informative journalism. This article is a good example of where it all goes wrong.

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  • 5. At 11:52am on 30 Sep 2009, culleton7 wrote:

    will the finals itself being shown again on bbc

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  • 6. At 11:59am on 30 Sep 2009, traveller73 wrote:

    Hey. I am writing this from Luanda right now and I am afraid your blogger is on the money with this one. I cannot comment about the stadia as I know nothing about them but its a shame they can't get it together in time. There are some very nice people here that are proud of their progress, however slow it appears to be. Apparently some of the provincial towns are quite nice nowadays and the scenery, beaches etc are top notch if you know where to look. However, referring to Luanda as its what i know best about Angola

    1. It´s horribly expensive.
    2. The few hotels there are, are not of a standard you would expect for 400 USD per night
    3. It will not attract supporters. THere is nowhere for them to stay, visas are a nightmare and you walk around Luanda at night at your own peril. Not recommended at all. Day time is generally ok though.
    4. Travel around Angola is hard work. The roads are being upgraded but its a slow process and getting to venues outwith Luanda are only really logical by plane. Bank on at least 7 hours by road.
    5. Listen to the FCO on air travel. TAAG are allowed to go to Lisbon again now but that is it as far as Europe goes. They are probably safe enough but I know that the oil companies here have banned travel on TAAG to their expat staff on company busniess. As for other internal airlines, I wouldn't as a rule.

    Overall the economic collapse coupled with oil price collapse I believe has slowed everything down to the extent they just cannot be ready in time. Pity, as they could have put on a good it looks now its going to be embarrassing.

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  • 7. At 12:25pm on 30 Sep 2009, iForeigner wrote:

    As far as I know Portugal is in the EU! So, TAAG is allowed to fly to the EU.
    Luanda is the most expensive city in the world. Copy and paste this link into your browser:
    Forget basic accomodation for less than US$ 500 a night in January - simple rule of supply and demand.
    The stadiums WILL be ready on time, don't you worry. The Chinese are not lazy at work.
    I go everywhere at night in Luanda. Of course you have to be careful anywhere in the world. I've seen pick-pockets "at work" in Central London but that did not make me stop or advising others to stop going there! C'mom people, be real!

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  • 8. At 1:22pm on 30 Sep 2009, liontwins wrote:

    Just happened to see this blog and I see the same bloggers who seem to comment on every topic on this site. Do they scan the site on a daily basis - get out more!

    Yes I see the irony of my comment but it is irritating.

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  • 9. At 1:32pm on 30 Sep 2009, Itchenrich wrote:

    iforeigner: I feel your comment about TAAG being allowed to fly to portugal therefore the EU is a bit petty. The point was to get across that the airlines may not be of a standard that you would want from a nation hosting an international event.

    The same with accomodation prices; supply and demand may of raised prices but that is not an excuse for a country who is trying to attract in thousands for this event.

    However, saying Angola is in East Africa!!

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  • 10. At 1:35pm on 30 Sep 2009, nunomelo wrote:

    I Dont mind when people comment about my country, but when your facts are worng is sad. So lady u got it wrong. Maybe shes just talking about an EAST African country, becouse Angola is a Southern West country ( shering borders with RDC, Zambia and Namibia with Cabinda shareing with RDC and R of Congo.

    1. At 11:30am on 30 Sep 2009, iForeigner wrote: your comment is totally facts, contrary to this blog.

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  • 11. At 1:44pm on 30 Sep 2009, nunomelo wrote:

    5. At 11:52am on 30 Sep 2009, culleton7 wrote: yeh bbc 3 or via red button....

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  • 12. At 2:16pm on 30 Sep 2009, supertellingthetruth wrote:

    Left Angola last year , lived in Luanda and Caxito and in my oppinion Luanda is the dirtiest , dustiest ,messiest , the most dangerous and expensive capital I've even been.
    The transport system is crap , there are white busses going all over the place with no destination written , the only one way one can understand the destination is to listen to the shoutings.They drive way too fast and dangerous and you are fully dependable on the whims of the driver.
    It is strange how nobody mentioned the traffic jams in Luanda , you can get stuck for hours e.g. from Cacuaco to the Port of Luanda , which is around 15km , you can travel from 3 to 5 hours.
    I was never braved enough to wonder around during the night , I saw too much during the day .
    I saw thugs emptying the cargo from lorries during a traffic jam in the famous Rotunda (the roundabout near Rocky market), women beaten up to death while in a taxi just to get there values,I was robbed with a knife on my throat in the city centre , becide the Ministry of Finance while the police was looking the other side. Once while using the publick transport , I was pushed out from 2 thugs beaten and robbed again .
    Guys I love Africa , but I'll never ever go to Luanda again and whoever says that the place is safe and nice is either too patriotic or never left the hotel room while there.

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  • 13. At 3:26pm on 30 Sep 2009, fair teh middlin wrote:

    where's angola...?

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  • 14. At 3:29pm on 30 Sep 2009, eddymarco08 wrote:

    -i'm sad to see such an article on a site like this. the stadium in bengula province is already done , and the one in Luanda is schedule to be done by November. and it's not a 40,000 it's a 50'000 seater.

    -and although there are only half a dozen major hotels there are many smaller hottels available,and about 6 more 4 to 5 star hotels being purposely built for the cup of nations, and the prices ranges between 150usd to a maximum of 600usd for 5 star presidential suits.I live in luanda and have never been to a £360 a night hotel.

    - onother point i would like to make is TAG has never had flights to any other european destination exepte portugal, so yes it can fly to the EU unless you consider Portugal a province of Angola Wich would obviously make it part of africa.

    -As for cabinda, i would much rather live there than in south london were knife crime is off the roof and i have to be scared of 16 year old boys with no manners.

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  • 15. At 3:48pm on 30 Sep 2009, IrishKang wrote:

    Wasn’t Angola a former colony of Portugal? Hence they must have an agreement to fly to the EU state.

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  • 16. At 3:57pm on 30 Sep 2009, Wildewestie wrote:

    Angola is a former colony of Portugal, so that is the reason why TAAG can fly there. Cities like Luanda and Benguela, and dozens of other settlements, ports and forts, had been founded and ruled by Portugal since the 16th century. After World War II, Portugal's leader, António Salazar, attempted to keep the Portuguese Empire intact at a time when other European countries were beginning to withdraw from their colonies. I'll not be visiting!

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  • 17. At 4:23pm on 30 Sep 2009, BringitON wrote:

    I know nothing about Angola, but I'd expect South Africa to learn something if not everything from Angola's experience so that they can be totally ready for the worldcup next summer. I'm not saying South Africa will bottle it but they can use Angola's experience to improve on anything that they are currently lacking.

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  • 18. At 4:38pm on 30 Sep 2009, traveller73 wrote:

    Where do I begin with the misinformation above. The Angolans I know will not walk around Luanda at night for fear of being robbed. Most Westerners are told to not even do that during the day. That is overkill but if i am carrying a leptop or something I will not walk. I have had my staff held up at gunpoint getting out of their car at work with their computer so I don't need anyone to tell me how safe things are. Yes, other cities are dangerous, but that doesnt mean Luanda is safe.

    There will be NO 5 star hotel ready for CAF. Sorry. The SANA is getting there but with 3 months to go, there is not a chance the finishing will be done. I doth my cap if they can do it. The Intercon will never be ready either. Skyna should be but its claiming to be 3 star. I also know the central (there is one other)´4´ star hotel is $400 USD per night now, so its not a stretch to say 360 GBP for the CAF at all in my view.

    As for the smaller hotels, yes there are a few, but I can't see it being enough and they will charge as much as possible. I stayed in the a windowless room with frayed cables and a dangerous electric shower once in Luanda and it was $150 USD, three years ago. I hope its not a mess, I genuinely do, but the way it looks just now is not good. Arriving at the airport has got better though!

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  • 19. At 4:40pm on 30 Sep 2009, traveller73 wrote:

    Oh. And TAAG also used to fly to Paris CDG until they were banned from the EU. So not just Lisbon.

    THey had plans to start Gatwick also but the ban wrecked that for them. Lisbon is the only EU point of entry for TAAG at the moment and I believe there are strict instructions around that also.

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  • 20. At 4:43pm on 30 Sep 2009, ade_want_mor wrote:

    iForeigner and eddymarco08 are quick to correct inaccuracies (some factual, some perceived) in this blog, but then make unsubstantiated accusations about UK crime levels.
    The article states: 'the Foreign Office warns of violent incidents against foreigners. This is an oil-rich area and until recently has been the site of armed conflict between government forces and a separatist movement called FLEC.'
    And its true - the Foreign Office does warn people about crime, both in Luanda and Cabinda (
    Luckily, despite finding your accusations about London ('were (sic) knife crime is off the roof and i have to be scared of 16 year old boys with no manners') offensive, I'm not going to be embarking on similar levels of mud-slinging.
    Surely the issue here is why is so much money being invested when basic infrastructure is lacking? Unless every visitor is flying from Portugal and accepting the expensive hotel fees, this is a missed opportunity to promote African football.

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  • 21. At 5:00pm on 30 Sep 2009, traveller73 wrote:

    The impact of Portugal on Angola is a whole other debate and would detract from the CAF debate. Its not just POrtugal of course, everyone is in ANgola trying to get thier slice of the action. The Chinese are their happily producing substandard building work, the oil companies are here trying to get as much out of the ground as possible, the Portuguese are here basically trying to get jobs because Portuguese unemployment is rampant and everyone else is here as there is a perception of gold at the end of the rainbox. Maybe yes, maybe no but it is clear that it certainly isn't the economic powerhouse it was hoping to be. Collapsed oil revenues have done that. See todays BBC article re. IMF loans for further info.

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  • 22. At 5:04pm on 30 Sep 2009, traveller73 wrote:

    And there is nothing South Africa could learn from Angola I am afraid. South Africa is a very different environment where they have a vastly superior infrstructure, well established tourist network, history in holding large sporting events safely and, strikes allowing, building work that is probably closer to completion than a lot of the Angolan CAF projects eventhough the world cup is 6 months later!

    South Africa in many respects is more like a US / Euro environment than an African one.

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  • 23. At 6:10pm on 30 Sep 2009, Luisaluanda wrote:

    I am living in Luanda and i hope they can reach everything they wish. Angolans are really nice people but to weak to fight they work very hard to have peanuts. Luanda is really very expensive and is not safe at all going out at night. There are not lights, no public transport and no one even angolans feel safe at night. The best place to go out is the Ilha and there all the security guards have guns under their outfits.

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  • 24. At 7:06pm on 30 Sep 2009, nunomelo wrote:

    now we are on the news for the bad reasons

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  • 25. At 7:15pm on 30 Sep 2009, nunomelo wrote:

    12. At 2:16pm on 30 Sep 2009, supertellingthetruth wrote: I saw thugs emptying the cargo from lorries during a traffic jam in the famous Rotunda (the roundabout near Rocky market), women beaten up to death while in a taxi just to get there values,I was robbed with a knife on my throat in the city centre , becide the Ministry of Finance while the police was looking the other side. Once while using the publick transport , I was pushed out from 2 thugs beaten and robbed again .
    Guys I love Africa , but I'll never ever go to Luanda again and whoever says that the place is safe and nice is either too patriotic or never left the hotel room while there

    ohhhh what a muppet, need sholder to cry on.... like this stuff doesnt happen every where.... Come to Brixton UK, u will think is your first trip to Jamaica... but im sure u save now...

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  • 26. At 7:58pm on 30 Sep 2009, reddodger100 wrote:

    I have worked in angola for the last two years, I wouldn't walkabout anywhere at night in Luanda.Daytime is ok, but only in the Centre

    As for Angolans working( i say work in the loosest of terms) for peanuts, I'm afraid they dont, they work for Kwanza and some at my company get very well paid and there labour conditions are probably the best in the world. His basic salary is what earned in the UK two years ago.
    The stadium is nearly ready in cabinda as I passed it about 3 weeks ago

    The traffic situation seems to have improved in the last 4 months or so as my journey home from work only takes about 20mins and not the normal 75.
    They should really have put the money into improving the social problems they have ,rather than a football competition

    No chance of getting a hotel, but the Tropico and Averlade are probably the best of the bunch

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  • 27. At 9:37pm on 30 Sep 2009, SkigerstaBear9 wrote:

    I can't help but feel that Angola is trying to do too much, too soon. The country is struggling to cope with the demands placed on it by the rapidly expanding oil and gas industry.............staging a major sporting tournament will further exacerbate the situation.......i wish that they'd have had the patients to wait another four to eight years to stage this tournament. I understand why they are so keen to stage as they are desperate to prove to the world that they are developing.

    Even by west african standards, Angola still has a long way to go. It would not be harsh to say that the $400 a night hotel rooms are equivalent to £40 a night rooms in the UK.

    The transport system within Luanda is a nightmare.......even if the stadiums are ready in January, Luanda will simply lock down for the time the tournament is on.

    The Chinese workers will be knocking their pan in to get these stadium ready so i would not be quick to fret......not yet anyway as these boys work their socks off!

    Take note of Angola during this tournament.......benchmark it because in a decades time (asssuming they maintain investment and growth rates) Angola will hopefully be a model African country...........hopefully!

    PS - the TAAG flight to Lisbon is operated by South African airways..........brand new plane!

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  • 28. At 12:40pm on 01 Oct 2009, Alex Stannard wrote:

    when will african football authorities wake up and make this competition, which whenever i have watched it is usually decided by whichever team has the least worst goalkeeper, every four years. African countires should focus on spending their national/natural resource revenues on long term development, not shiney stadiums as condesending as it sounds

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  • 29. At 1:18pm on 03 Oct 2009, giltiny wrote:

    It is clear that bbc loves to criticise everything others do for the past two months i have notice that they are trying to show only the bad thinks about Angola my question is why now? it was the same about china 2008 they will not be ready people are starving you can’t take pictures etc etc and the end the Chinese put a great show that will be remembered for years to come that not even London will be able to do so in 2012 Olympics i hope am wrong because a love London. Angola is not a safe country? There’s no doubt about. It there are not big hotels? Yes there are not but you should remember where Angola is coming from 30 year of war supported by USA France and for the same Foreign Office that now is advising people not to go there. This is only African cup of nations they are not expecting millions of tourists 4000 maximum around 4 cities i think they will be fine the same is happen to rio de janeiro they are not capable of organising an Olympic is to dangerous bla bla bla louisa is picking Angola now in 6 months time the foreign office will advise people not to go to south Africa. i remember even Portugal they criticise in euro 2004 showing bad image about Lisbon that just the way it is. I can’t remember tagg killing 200 people air France did that. Why don’t you leave Angola alone? And let this poor people dream .all the best for Angola i hope they put on a great show peace

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  • 30. At 00:06am on 07 Oct 2009, loveangola wrote:

    Really am upset with lack of research done by the person who wrote this article and also very stressed with the editor who authorized to be published.

    1. most of foreigns that are working on the oil companys are from uk, and they seem to love the country n city Luanda, specially the angolan beer CUCA, ask them about it.

    2. luanda is more safe than london it self, it wasnt in luanda that they tried to bomb it or exploded few buses, that killed inocent people where was the foreign office when that happens oh they forgot to advise people, right! thought so....

    3. in luanda city there been building plenty of hotel cuz they seem to understand that they lacked hotels in quantity, so why didnt the report actually went to angola and done the research before he done the article

    4. visa, okey you wanted to talk about visa yeh, well lets see, if a angolan person wants to come to uk they have to wait at least 2months before they get the visa accepted or declined because the papers have to go to south africa and be aproved, so whats the point on having a embassy in angola(oh its used to spy right) so we will see how works for you to go there i can assure u, that everyone will sweat hard to get the visa... "(DNT DO TO THE OTHERS WHAT YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO BE DONE TO YOU")

    5. trust dnt listen to the foreign office go to angola ready to have fun cuz trust me u will fall in love with that country, would be nice to have a angolan friend so that you can actually go around the city n get to know the city but if u dnt have that friend dont worry, angolan people can speak english now days and we are as friendly as any english person.

    6. people that are in angola dnt go out often, all they do is work. they are under contract that they work 28 days then they go back to uk for 28days, so how u going to know the country itself if u as soon as ur working days a done u go back to ur country.....get out more....then you will see the country as it is not as what u read, because i can see that what you read is extreamelly wrong....

    7. oh yeh the stadions are brand new just like the wembley but less capacity.... by the way the price didnt change as the wembley stadium did and will not take as long as the wembley because WE PAID THE PEOPLE THE RIGHT MONEY TO BUILD THE STADIUM..... and there aint no people smoking cannabis there on the stadium site...remember wembley.........yeh thought so

    8.i feel really let down by bbc

    9. maybe when you need oil for you petrol dnt buy it from angola because angola soooo bad, angola its only good for things that you need n nothing else..... i love london...but now i want to see how 2012 goin be like..........


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  • 31. At 3:14pm on 16 Oct 2009, Filipetheangolan wrote:

    Hi guys

    I just want to manifest that i agree totally what was said by loveangola, because normally foreign people already (speacialy from Uk and EU) come to angola with made ideias thought by their companys and now want to speak about things that they really don't know...please!!
    What really made me upset was the fact that BBC allows journalist like the one who wrote this article, to say thing without any investigation.I know that we've our weaknesses, the city its not totally safe, but Rio de janeiro is one of the most dangerous city in the world and u guys don't stop going there. Every city in the world have their weakenesses as you have yours like Brixton.

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  • 32. At 12:40pm on 21 Oct 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    Honestly, I don't think Angola is ready to host a major football
    tournament...But, I am also, giving the country the benefit of the doubt...

    ~Dennis Junior~

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