Algeria opened its new 40,000-seat stadium on Saturday just days before the country hosts the 2022 TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN).
The iconic Nelson Mandela Stadium in the capital of Algiers was inaugurated with a friendly match against Ghana following a ceremony attended by several local sporting dignitaries.
Vociferous local football fans and families were also present as the Local Desert Foxes played the Black Galaxies to a goalless draw in the entertaining warm-up match.
The stadium, named in honour of former South African President and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, is located in Baraki – a suburb of Algiers.
It will host its first official international match on Friday, 13 January 2023, when Algeria play Libya in the opening match of the CHAN tournament.
The venue will also host the final of the competition that is meant exclusively for home-based players in Africa on 4th February, 2022.
Algeria coach Abdelmadjid Bougherra expressed his admiration for the new Nelson Mandela Stadium, likening it to some of the top stadiums in Europe.
“To be honest, I felt I was in Europe. The new Nelson Mandela stadium has good pitches and good facilities,” said the former international defender who played for several clubs in Europe for over ten years.
“I am also happy about the fact that we also have European-class stadiums I saw when I was a player in Europe with similar atmosphere and facilities.”
His Ghanaian counterpart Annor Walker also hailed the giant edifice, convinced that it is a sign of Algeria’s good hosting of the impending tournament.
“Honestly, what I saw at Nelson Mandela Stadium made me rejoice. This is a gem which must be cherished by all Africans,” Walker said after the friendly match.
“It has also fully convinced me that Algeria is serious about football and that for this CHAN, everything will go well as far as facilities are concerned.”
The stadium will host national and international matches following its inauguration with the friendly between Algeria and Ghana.
This means it will host some matches of the senior national team the Desert Foxes as well as matches in the domestic leagues.
The clubs based in the city of Algiers like CR Belouizdad and USM Alger will be using the stadium as the venue for some of their home matches.