Benin vs Nigeria: My CHAN trip to Cotonou

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We had lunch of rice and chicken in front of the stadium and were offered freshly pressed pineapple juice to wash it down. It was also a good opportunity to dust off my rusty French, which I had not used in a long time. On the return leg, we bought sautéed meat wrapped in brown paper from the roadside which we munched with baguettes on the ride back to Lagos.

The Stade de l’Amitie, Benin’s main sports facility, has seen better days. The grounds that hosted the 2005 African U17 Championships was uneven, with a lot of bumpy spots. A part of the tartan track had caved under and was cordoned off so that athletes and service vehicles do not mistakenly tumble in. Many of the seats had become worn out due to the toxic combination of tropical sunshine and rainfall. It cut a similar picture to Nigeria’s dilapidated Lagos National Stadium, only that it is the only stadium that Benin has and they are forced to make use of it.

While Ethiopia is investing in new sports facilities as I wrote last week, West African countries have not built new facilities in a while. Not since 2008 when Ghana built three new stadiums for the Africa Cup of Nations has there been massive investment in facilities. Ghana will make use of the stadium in Sekondi to host the WAFU Cup next month.

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