Thousands of Senegalese gathered on Tuesday for the inauguration of a 50,000-seater stadium aimed at making the country Africa’s go-to venue for international events.
The stadium is in Diamniadio, a town being built about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the capital Dakar, for which an express train link opened in December.
The venue, to be named in honour of former president Abdoulaye Wade, will be the only one in Senegal certified for international football.
Current President Macky Sall said during an inauguration ceremony that the naming of the stadium was a “tribute to the multidimensional, intellectual, pan-Africanist politician”.
The country’s last major stadium, Lat Dior, in the region of Thies 70 kilometres from Dakar, lost its certification from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in May last year.
The new stadium was built in just 18 months by Turkey’s Summa construction company, at a cost of 156 billion CFA francs ($270 million, 238 million euros).
Am exhibition match will be part of the show, with Senegalese legends such as Aliou Cisse — the current coach of the national side — opposing a team of African all-stars, including Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast.
Senegal beat Egypt to lift the Africa Cup of Nations title and will meet the Pharaohs again in a World Cup qualifier.