Botswana’s proposal to co-host the 2027 edition of the Afcon with Namibia has been met with enormous scepticism by local sport analysts.
They have all questioned Namibia’s infrastructure and fiscal capacity to host the continent’s premium football competition.
Neighbouring Botswana recently extended an invitation to their Namibian counterparts, putting forth a gigantic proposal to co-host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) edition with Namibia as they aim to bring the tournament back to southern African shores.
While both the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) and the Botswana Football Association (BFA) have reportedly already gotten approval from that country’s cabinet to prepare a bid to host the 2027 continental football showpiece, Namibia is on the other hand faced with a crag of challenges on almost all accounts.
Namibia currently only boasts two major stadiums, the Sam Nujoma and Independence, but the two venues have since been downgraded by Caf and Fifa, as they do not meet minimum standards for international football matches.
In terms of size and capacity, the Independence stadium only has a holding capacity of 25 000 spectators, while the Sam Nujoma stadium has a meagre carrying capacity of 10 300 spectators.
As a result of the banishment by Caf and Fifa, all national football teams have since been forced to play all their international matches in South Africa. Other average stadiums can be found in towns such as Swakopmund, Oshakati and Gobabis, but those are also nowhere near meeting any Caf or Fifa standards.
Brave Warriors great and former Bundesliga giants Hamburger SV midfield livewire Collin Benjamin was among those who gauged Namibia’s possibility of successfully co-hosting the 2027 Afcon with Botswana.
Benjamin, who remains one of Namibia’s highly decorated footballers, expressed profound scepticism about the country’s overall capacity to co-host a competition of such magnitude, saying the decaying state of the country’s infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired.
He also highlighted government’s continuous poor allocation of funds towards the country’s sport sector, adding that at the moment, Namibia does not appear to have the required financial muscles to co-host the 2027 Afcon.
“Let’s bid for future editions preferably. It’s the most sensible option,” said the retired defensive midfielder, who also played for TSV 1860 Munich and FC Elmshorn 1920 in Germany.
Also sharing his views on the proposed bid was local football analyst and renowned sport and labour consultant, Olsen Kahiriri.
Kahiriri said although Namibia successfully hosted the 2014 African Women’s Championship and the 2016 Cosafa Cup, hosting Africa’s biggest football competition is a whole different ball game and will require 10 times the infrastructure and resources.
“As a country, we should have capitalised on the upgraded facilities that were used during the hosting of 2014 African Women’s Championship and the 2016 Cosafa Cup, but we went back to slumber while facilities were falling apart and now we are paying a heavy price for that negligence,” he noted.
“It is common cause that for the past many years, our government has had no interest in investing in sports infrastructure, and the general poor funding of the local sports sector has not made it any better for the country. These major continental events cost massive money to host and must be hosted against sound and clear commercial objectives, otherwise, it will be a waste of time and money if no job opportunities are created before and during the hosting period of the event.”
“It is high time for our politicians to understand that the world’s richest young people are in sports and above all, sports remain the fastest growing industry in the world; far ahead of the oil and gas industries. So, I would say let us not fool ourselves for now by trying to vie for the 2027 Afcon, but let’s rather develop a five-year or 10-year strategic plan on how we can bring our dilapidated infrastructure to a world-class level, and also improve our sport funding models as a country,” he added.
While Namibia and Botswana are fancying their chances of co-hosting the 36th Afcon edition in 2027, Ivory Coast have already been confirmed as the host country of the 2023 edition and Guinea as host of the 2025 edition.