Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly laid the foundation stone of a brand new football stadium in Yamoussoukro on Friday as work accelerated in preparation for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Several thousand people were present at the site for the 20,000-capacity stadium in the political capital, which is expected to be one of six venues for the tournament.
Coulibaly promised a budget of 300 million euros ($345 million) investment in infrastructure in preparation of the country’s first hosting of the event since 1984.
Work on a separate 60,000-capacity stadium in Abidjan began in 2016, while other new grounds are scheduled at San Pedro and Korhogo, and the renovation of a major stadium at Bouake (40,000) is also on the agenda.
Previous editions of the CAN have taken place in January-February but a new format for June-July tournaments with 24 nations rather than 16 will see the event enlarged.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said there were major delays in the building of infrastructure in Cameroon, scheduled to stage next year’s competition, and that a decision on whether to strip them of hosting rights would be made at the end of November.
Morocco, which unsuccessfully bid to host the 2026 World Cup, has lobbied to replace Cameroon as hosts.