YAOUNDE—A week after eight teams were pooled into two Groups here, flagging off the countdown to the 2016 Women’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in two months; several stadia to host the competition are still massive work sites.
At the Amadou Ahidjo stadium, where Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses will clash with Egypt in the opening match, a new roof is going up over the presidential tribune. A second electronic score board is still a steel rectangle overlooking the playground.
Men and women in helmets and orange workmen jackets are adding a coat of paint here and there, tightening screws, welding metal beams in place and cleaning off thin layers of rusty mud left behind by a downpour of rain every other day.
Around the stadium, earth lifters are still digging trenches, where workers are burying long thick cables. Newly built offices around the stadium still need windows, doors and paint. The main entrance to the stadium is a muddy mess.
“It’s a race against time,” said a supervisor, declining to be named because he was not permitted to talk to the media.
Works started at the stadium about a year ago. Concrete pillars have been reinforced and upgraded with new flights of steps leading straight to the upper deck of Tribune C and a brand new parking with polls that will be fitted with street lighting.
“We are almost done,” said the supervisor.
Neat rows of yellow, red and green seats have already been fitted where spectators used to sit on dusty concrete slabs. The turf bellow is a thick green surface that looks ready for play. A new communication both now hangs over the presidential tribune.
In less than two months, Cameroon will try to impress Africa with an opening spectacle of music, dance and parades, which officials at the ministry of sports and physical education say will be perfected in the coming weeks.
Cameroon is hosting the competition for the first time. At the draw of teams here a week ago, the country appeared poised to organise a memorable tournament. In many ways, it is a rehearsal for the 2019 AFCON, which it will also host.
More than 40,000 people will be seated at Ahmadou Ahidjo, which was commissioned in 1972 when Cameroon first hosted an Africa Cup of Nations. Many matches have been played here, some of them on a patchy playground.
But the upgrades going on indicate a new determination to make Ahmadou Ahidjo truly enigmatic.