At long last, Senegal now has a world-class stadium that should match their reputation as current African champions.
The 50,000-seater stadium, named after former Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade was inaugurated Tuesday, February 22, with a selection of African football legends squaring off with Senegalese legends in a thrilling encounter that lasted only 30 minutes.
The match that ended in a 1-1 tie saw the participation of Africa’s football greats like Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, Jay jay Okocha of Nigeria, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, Emmanuel Adebayor of Togo, Alhaj Diouf of Senegal, Gyan Asamoah of Ghana, and many others.
Thousands of Senegalese traveled by bus or train to reach the 50,000-seat stadium in Diamniadio, about thirty kilometers from the capital Dakar.
Describing it as a state-of-the-art stadium, Gallo Bâ, General Manager of SOGIP, the Company for the Management of Public Infrastructure in the urban centers of Diamniadio and Lac Rose aid that the stadium has “a presidential lounge and a VI-VIP box. We have all the amenities that make it a stadium of the last generation. The equipment is ultra-modern and meets the latest technological standards.”
In addition to the VAR (video assistance) or goal-line technology, the new home of the Lions is equipped with a powerful system of firefighting or 360 cameras around the field.
A museum in honor of Papa Bouba Diop has also been incorporated into the stadium-it being a fitting tribute to the former Lions midfielder, who tragically died of Charcot’s disease in November 2020, at the age of only 42.
President Macky Sall said the choice of the name of the former head of state is a “tribute to his multi-dimensional career, intellectual, pan-Africanist, politician and former president of Senegal.”
“This beautiful infrastructure dedicated to youth is an invitation to continue our path to excellence,” said Sall.
CAF President Dr. Patrice Motsepe spoke about the importance of the stadium for Senegal and Africa.
“Today is a historic day in football in Senegal, and today is a historic day in football in Africa,” Motsepe said.
“A few days ago, we were in Cameroon; it was a pleasure for me with President Infantino and the President of Cameroon to hand over the trophy to Senegal. Over the years, Senegalese football has made us proud, and I want to thank President Macky Sall for supporting football in Senegal.”
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, brandishing a Senegalese jersey pointed to the green star on the jersey, saying “this star shines bright for Senegal all over the world…What an honor to be here today, and what emotion!”
“Tonight’s inauguration of Stade du Senegal/Abdoulaye Wade Stadium was simply outstanding. Senegal’s victory in the recent AFCON is proof of this country’s love of and natural talent for, football. I look forward to seeing the upcoming stars of Teranga taking to the pitch here in the future and hearing the lions roar.”
It took Turkish firm just 18 months to construct the stadium which cost 238 million euros.
Also present at the inauguration ceremony were Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Barrow of the Gambia, Embalo of Guinea Bissau, and George Weah of Liberia.