For the first time in five years, football returned to its cathedral, Mandela national stadium, Namboole on Wednesday.

The two test matches saw BUL edge Vipers to move top of the premier league before KCCA overcame rivals SC Villa 2-0 in a thriller in what is intended to show CAF that Uganda is ready to host international matches including FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

In banning Namboole in 2019, FIFA and CAF saw it below standards citing many faults starting with the playing surface, dressing rooms, the stadium not being without seats and a host of other things demanded for a venue to host matches of international standards.

Government then embarked on refurbishment with a budget of 97 billion approved.

A lot was said about the works with Parliament at one time calling the works by UPDF substandard while FUFA President Moses Magogo once stated that the stadium is only good for selfies.

But on Wednesday, we were at hand to witness first hand and here is the Good, Bad and Ugly from what was observed.

The Good

Playing surface

The first observation by every football loving Ugandan was the smooth playing surface contrary to what was available before the ban. Hope it is maintained to last longer both on the main and outside pitch.

An all-seater stadium

The stadium is now an all-seater. Although this has reduced the capacity, it was something missing before when it was banned. The ability of the seats to last some distance however is another question.

The capacity crowd

It was exciting to see such a crowd for league matches. It was last seen in the early 2000s before the fans started to shun local matches.

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Of course, you can cite many reasons for the turn up beyond football including the anxiety to see the new look stadium, being a public holiday and choice of fixtures involving the teams in the title race but kudos.

The KCCA – Villa thriller

Not to take away anything from the BUL – Vipers game that many fans dubbed a curtain raiser, KCCA and Villa entertained the crowd with free-flowing football.

The Jogoos as has been the case this season possessed and counter attacked well but were let down by lethargic forwards while KCCA playing the Mubiru – ball delivered the goods through late Usama Arafat double.

The game was worth the hype it received before kick off with even beaten Villa fans applauding their team for the performance.

The Bad

Faulty stadium screen

The stadium screen was faulty and what made it appear bad was an improvised small screen below it.

And to try prove a point, flash score live updates was displayed instead of UPL graphics. Though it was later amended, it looked bad.

Automated access control

For a week, the authorities told the fans that the E-tickets would give smooth access to all fans and advised every ticket holder to protect the bar code with utmost care.

It was annoying that automated access control machines failed to respond keeping fans in unnecessary long queues and when their patience was tested to the limit, they forced themselves in.

It was a shame blocking people with tickets because of failure of machines.  

The floodlights were dim

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It is reported that the used floodlights were borrowed from neighbours Kenya as the purchased ones for the Namboole facility are yet to arrive.

They were however not as good as they should be and I highly doubt a match of FIFA World Cup qualifiers magnitude can be go on under such blurred lighting.

The Ugly

Media Tribune

Mixing the fans with the media in what was dubbed as the media tribune was one of the ugliest things on show.

There was not space to work, no power supply and above all, it was unsafe and this needs urgent attention.

Running tartan track

For an Olympic stadium like Namboole, a tartan running track is a must but it was missing.

Unmarked parking slot with no lighting

The parking slots were unmarked and on top of that, there was no security lights which is a big safety risk for the fans.

However, with the contractors informing the public the stadium isn’t complete for a handover, these issues can be worked on and hopefully, CAF accepts the country to have the June fixtures against Botswana and Algeria played at the venue.

The post The good, the bad and ugly as Namboole tests for re-opening appeared first on Kawowo Sports.

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