With 100 days to the opening match, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 Hany Abo Rida, has expressed optimistic about hosting an event that will last in the minds of all.
He said preparations are far advanced especially for the official draw for the final tournament scheduled for 12 April 2019 in Cairo, whilst fine-tuning for competition itself has also reached top gear.
Egypt 2019 will be the first AFCON under the revised 24-format will take place from 21 June to 19 July 2019.
Below are excerpts of the interview of with CAFOnline.com
Today is 100 days approaching, how ready is Egypt to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations?
Hany Abo Rida: Preparations are going well as planned. From the onset, there have been daily meetings between the Local Organising Committee (LOC) and specialized committees to meet the timelines.
The preparations cover many aspects, including getting the six designated venues in the perfect conditions with respect to the pitches, changing rooms, tribunes and supporters’ areas. Another aspect covers the various training pitches and hotels that will welcome the qualified teams as well as transportation and reception for visiting fans.
We are also giving premium to media facilities at the various stadia to accommodate the expected huge media turn both local and international. Regarding ticketing, the process will be online to avoid congestion at sale points. Despite the limited time, we are working round the clock to be ready for the opening match on 21 June.
What is the relationship between CAF and the LOC regarding preparations?
Great thus far as there has been full cooperation between the LOC and CAF. We signed the Organising Association Agreement (OAA) few days ago and both parties are working towards making the event a memorable one. On his recent visit to Egypt, the CAF President also visited Cairo International Stadium, and expressed satisfaction with the rehabilitation works at the site.
What surprise do you have for the rest of the world for the official draw ceremony on 12 April?
We are putting together a concept that will express Egypt’s past and future, and based on great history and civilization. The ceremony will be a mixture of Egyptian folklore and modern culture. We have decided on a venue next to the globally acclaimed Giza Pyramids, as it gives a clear picture of Egypt’s role in history and human civilization, especially that millions of people will watch the draw ceremony which is a great chance to promote Egyptian tourism.
How are you coping with the tight schedule to meet deadlines?
Of course, time is of the essence especially in technical issues the pitch of a stadium. But Egypt is a great country with huge capabilities to host the tournament in an acceptable and amazing manner. With support from the Egyptian Government at all levels, and the determination of sporting community coupled with an LOC team of experience and youth, I’m very optimistic that Egypt will organize an exceptionally successful tournament.
The organizing committee works 24/7 to prepare for the tournament and we promise to produce the best ever tournament regarding organization, hosting and hospitality. We hope this will be accompanied by good performance from Egypt’s national team and that they will be crowned champions at the end.
This edition will be the first with 24-teams and in summer. How special will it be taking into consideration it will be the fifth to be hosted by Egypt?
Egypt is synonymous with history. We were champions in the first two editions (1957 and 1959), now we are making history as host of this exceptional edition with 24 teams, instead of 16. For the first time in history of the Africa Cup of Nations, the tourney will be held in summer instead of traditional January-February schedule. It’s an exceptional tournament and we pray to God to grant us success that will make every African proud.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF)