Voice of Sport

St Mary’s Stadium, home of Vipers SC [Uganda] now fit for CAF fixtures

In a span of just weeks, Uganda’s two compact soccer grounds receive CAF [Confederation of African Football] green light to host international matches


A Ugandan top international school, St Mary’s of Kitende, off the Kampala/Entebbe Highway now has a stadium approved for CAF [African Football Confederation] matches.

Just outside the campus of the school with a reputable academic and sporting record, St Mary’s Stadium, is the home of Vipers Sports Club, Uganda Premier League champions of 2010 and 2015 and this year’s country’s representatives at the CAF Confederation Cup tournament.

Successes

Vipers’ recruiting policy includes mentoring talented footballers from St Mary’s to join top-flight football and some of their recent successes have been emergence of Uganda top striker Farouk Miya of Belgian club Standard Liege and Uganda internationals Keziron Kizito and Nicholas Wadada Wakiro. Another well know player in East Africa, Emmanuel Okwi playing in Tanzania came from St Mary’s.

Proprietors of St Mary’s put in resources to upgrade their football ground into an international standard facility and now CAF has approved its status. It will hold the coming CAF Confed Cup round between Vipers and Platinum Stars of South Africa next Saturday, March 11. And henceforth Vipers’ supporters will be hoping visiting teams to “feel” the “intimidation” at the 15, 000 seat capacity venue.

         

Approval

A CAF inspection and recommending team, including Cecafa [Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations] general secretary Nicholas Musonye of Kenya visited the St Mary’s Stadium. Later, FUFA [Federation of Uganda Football Associations] football organising committee chairman Bernard Ogwel said CAF’s approval was delivered during the week by CAF competitions department boss Ahmed Harraz. “There was great improvement at the stadium since the first visit,” Ogwel said.

There was jubilation from Vipers SC, St Mary’s School community and Uganda in general. The Kitende facility will be the second in a short span that had received international class status. Another small, compact and smart stadium, newly named Philip Omondi Stadium of city center Kampala in Lugogo also received CAF approval. And to mark the occasion was none other than Gianni Infantino, President of Fifa, and the world football body when he visited Uganda a week ago.

Advantage

The Philip Omondi Stadium is home of Uganda champions Kampala Capital City Authority football club. They are taking part in this year’s CAF Champions League and they will have home advantage against Africa champions Mamelodi Sundowns in their next fixture.

Lawrence Mulindwa, a former FUFA President and a director of St Mary’s School and Vipers SC said they had paid attention to comfort of players and spectators and indeed Ogwel said of the stadium:  “The VIP section, sanitation, public address system and lighting facilities are all in place now. I congratulate Vipers and Lawrence Mulindwa (club director) upon the big achievement.”

         

Celebration

Last Sunday, thanksgiving prayers were held at the stadium and Mulindwa used the opportunity to demonstrate how tedious and costly the building process had been. “We have spent billions in this project and I thank God we have reached this stage,” he said attracting alulations from students, parents and well-wishers.

         

 

Vipers previously hosted their continental ties at the Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Namboole and league games at the pre-Independence built Nakivubo Stadium in the middle of Kampala whose stands have now been demolished this week ahead of a planned redevelopment by businessman Ham Kiggundu.

CAF FIXTURES:

Cecafa region:

Fixtures:

(March 10-12; March 17-19)

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE:

Rivers United (Nigeria) v *Al Merreikh (Sudan)
Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa) v *KCCA (Uganda)
*Young Africans (Tanzania) v Zanaco (Zambia)
AC Leopards (Congo Brazzaville) v *St George (Ethiopia)
*Al Hilal (Sudan) v AS Port-Louis 200 (Mauritius)

CAF CONFEDERATION CUP:

*Vipers SC (Uganda) v Platinum Stars (South Africa)
*Azam (Tanzania) v Mbabane Swallows (Swaziland)
Zesco United (Zambia) v *Le Messager Ngozi (Burundi)
Onze Createurs (Mali) v *Rayon Sports (Rwanda)
SM Sanga Balende (Congo Kinshasa) v *Al Hilal Al-Ubayyid (Sudan)
Smouha (Egypt) v *Ulinzi Stars (Kenya)
*Al Ahly Shendy (Sudan) v SuperSport United (South Africa)

*Cecafa region clubs

-Additional reporting by Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo and Denis Bbosa, [Uganda] The Monitor