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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.


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