Magazine article New African

Ghana Is Ready for the Nations Cup

Magazine article New African

Ghana Is Ready for the Nations Cup

Article excerpt

The biennial African Cup of Nations tournament kicks off in Ghana on 20 January, and for 21 days thereafter 16 countries will vie for honours in Africa's premier soccer fiesta. Dr Kofi Amoah, chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), says the hosts are ready for the one million or so fans expected at the tournament. Stephen Gyasi Jnr reports from Accra

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Dr Kofi Amoah, a businessman of some repute, is a man of few words. As chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the African Cup of Nations (GHANA 2008), Dr Amoah is brimming with confidence that Ghana's name will go down in history as one of the best hosts of the continent's biennial soccer showpiece since its inception 50 years ago.

The tournament begins on 20 January with 14 qualifying countries joining the hosts Ghana and the defending champions Egypt, to compete for honours in the 21-day-long fiesta. With about one million soccer fans expected at the tournament, Dr Amoah remains supremely confident that the elaborate accommodation arrangements put in place by his committee in collaboration with stakeholders of the nation's hospitality industry, and some selected educational institutions, will be enough to cater for the housing needs of all guests.

"Some educational institutions in the venue cities have agreed to delay their resumption of school terms to enable the LOC to use their hostel and dormitory facilities to augment the accommodation needs of the tournament. All four public universities in the country (in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast and Tamale) are blazing the trail in this regard," Dr Amoah said. Almost all hotels in the country--from the plush to the ordinary--were fully booked by the end of October 2007, but Dr Amoah contends that the influx of people will not overwhelm the accommodation arrangements put in place across the country.

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He cautioned against ambush-marketing, adding that MTN, the mobile telephone provider which is the main sponsor of the tournament, had paid a fortune to secure the rights as "headline sponsors".

"Any overt or covert attempt by anybody to advertise a product or service during the tournament without formal permission will be made to face the full rigours of the law, because the LOC is committed to protecting the interests of the tournament's sponsors to ensure that they make the most of their investment," Dr Amoah added.

A comprehensive security plan has been mapped out to ensure that the event is held without blight and Dr Amoah states unequivocally that "any miscreants who may want to mar the beauty of the event will be severely dealt with to protect the nation's hard won reputation for hosting major international events without a hitch."

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He disclosed that Ghana's security officials would be liaising with their counterparts in the participating countries to study at first-hand, the behavioural peculiarities of their nationals, to enable them to maintain order nationwide, particularly at the venue cities during the tournament.

He also called on all Ghanaians to be vigilant and report any violent elements to the security agencies to ensure that the nation's peace is not undermined during the tournament. "Some of the match venues even have in-built police posts to deal with all cases of violence, provocation and hooliganism so the LOC is highly committed to organising an incident-free event. …

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