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FIVE YEARS AHEAD, QATAR UNVEILS REVOLUTIONARY STADIUM CAPABLE OF RELOCATING

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With attention largely focused on the World Cup 2018, especially the Final Draw holding this weekend in Moscow, the 2022 hosts, Qatar has offered some diversions with an eye-popping design for a venue that will not be used until five years from now.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy which Qatar has put together for the delivery of the first ever World Cup to hold in a desert region has unveiled the plan for the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, which is the seventh among those proposed for World Cup 2022.

With technology matching the needs of the future, the stadium will be the first ever fully demountable FIFA World Cup stadium and will be capable of seating 40,000 spectators.

Considering what has happened at the previous World Cup host countries where newly constructed stadiums later turned to be white elephant projects, the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium has legacy prospects.

It has combined tournament experience and legacy planning in a revolutionary way.

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According to news release from the FIFA website, the venue is capable of being reassembled on another site or turned into multiple smaller venues both for sports and other purposes.

According to its specifications, the stadium to be made of modular building blocks will have removable seats, concession stands, lavatories and other fundamental stadium elements.

“Innovation has always been central to our plans for delivering a historic FIFA World Cup that leaves a legacy for Qatar and the world, and there is no better example of this than the design of Ras Abu Aboud Stadium,” SC Secretary General H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi remarked.

“This venue offers the perfect legacy, capable of being reassembled in a new location in its entirety or built into numerous small sports and cultural venues. All of this in a stadium that delivers the atmosphere fans expect at a World Cup and which we will build in a more sustainable way than ever before. I’m delighted with this design and confident that Ras Abu Aboud will become a blueprint for future mega-event planners to follow.”

Ras Abu Aboud’s modular design also means construction of the venue will require fewer materials, create less waste and reduce the carbon footprint of the building process. Thanks to this sustainable approach to the stadium’s construction, Ras Abu Aboud will receive a four-star Global Sustainability Assessment System certification.

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“Qatar is delivering superb results in terms of sustainability, including the proposed design for Ras Abu Aboud Stadium,” said Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s Head of Sustainability & Diversity.

“From day one, there has been a strong emphasis on sustainability from Qatar, including a commitment to ensure that all infrastructure meets strict design, build and operations criteria under the GSAS certification programme.

“GSAS is the most far reaching green building certification. In addition to design and build, it also measures operations. This has actually informed the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding process. Bidders are now required to adhere to all three steps regarding new developments, while existing buildings should be operated according to agreed sustainability guidelines.”

The 40,000-seat venue is slated for completion in 2020 and will be located in a 450,000m2 waterfront site on Doha’s shore, where the use of shipping containers as one of the main building blocks will echo the nearby port. Situated just southeast of Doha and a mere 1.5 kilometres from the city’s state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport, it will be serviced by excellent transport links, including a dedicated stop on Qatar Rail’s Gold Line (less than a ten-minute ride from Doha’s central Msheireb Station and just 25 minutes from the airport), direct road connections to the centre of Doha and Al Wakrah, and potentially even a water taxi stop.

The stadium precinct, meanwhile, will offer exceptional views over Doha’s landmark Corniche and into the downtown West Bay area, making it an ideal location for a waterfront development after the tournament and ensuring a vibrant local legacy. Its design also reinforces Qatar’s commitment to leaving a physical legacy proportionate to Qatar’s needs after the tournament, while heralding a new era of sustainable tournament infrastructure that can broaden the range of countries able to host such mega-events.

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The launch of the design of Ras Abu Aboud Stadium follows the design launch of Al Thumama Stadium in August 2017 and the completion of Khalifa International Stadium for the Emir Cup Final 2017 in May. Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is one of eight proposed host venues for the World Cup.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Exclusive: Rohr names his squad to face Super Eagles in World Cup qualifiers

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Gernot Rohr, Benin Repuyblic coach

Former Nigeria manager now working for the opposition, Gernot Rohr has named his Benin Republic team to face Super Eagles on 10th June.

In the squad are 19 professionals playing at various clubs in Europe and six home based players drawn from local league.

Rohr said at a press conference that he was confident the boys will beat the Super Eagles. The team is expected to leave Cotonou for Abidjan on Monday and train on the same pitch where they will face the Super Eagles.

The Super Eagles played some of their matches at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Stadium during the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

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Why serial violators, Equatorial Guinea forfeit World Cup qualifiers

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Fire Brand Afcon Sharp Shooter, Nsue Set Equatorial Guinea FA Ablaze -

Equatorial Guinea have had to forfeit their first two 2026 World Cup qualifiers after a FIFA Disciplinary Committee ruled that former Spain junior international Emilio Nsue was ineligible to play in both matches.

The 34-year-old scored the winning goal in both of those games, against Namibia and Liberia, last November.

Nsue, who finished as the leading scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cote d’Ivoire earlier this year, has also been banned for six months from international football, FIFA confirmed in a statement on Friday, though they did not shed light on the specific reasons for his ineligibility.

It is a repeat case after Equatorial Guinea also had to forfeit two matches in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers for fielding Nsue. No reason for his ineligibility was given by FIFA on that occasion either

But curiously, he did play in the qualifiers for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.

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FIFA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Equatorial Guinea beat both Liberia and Namibia 1-0 in their first two qualifiers for 2026, but those will now be awarded as 3-0 losses.

“After considering all elements brought before it, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee was comfortably satisfied that the player was ineligible and consequently decided to declare the matches of the FIFA World Cup 2026 preliminary competition in which the player was fielded lost by forfeit by Equatorial Guinea,” the FIFA statement said.

Nsue scored five goals at the recent Cup of Nations to take home the Golden Boot but missed a vital penalty in the round of 16 loss to Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea will travel to Tunisia for their next qualifier on June 5, before they host Malawi five days later.

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They are six points behind leaders Tunisia and Namibia in the six-team pool with only the top side in the group gaining automatic qualification for the finals in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

-Reuters

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African champions Cote d’Ivoire unleash new blood for World Cup qualifiers

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Cote d’Ivoire coach Emerse Faé has overhauled his squad for next month’s crucial 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Gabon and Kenya, handing call-ups to five new faces including a trio of players from Ligue 1.

The Elephants, who top Group F alongside Gabon on six points, host the Panthers in Korhogo on 7 June before an away trip to Nairobi to take on the Harambee Stars four days later.

With qualification for the finals in the USA, Canada and Mexico well-poised, Faé has taken the opportunity to inject fresh blood into his ranks following the side’s TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations triumph in February.

Nice striker Evann Guessand, Le Havre left-back Christopher Operi and Lorient frontman Mohamed Bamba have all earned their first senior call-ups as part of Faé’s revamp.

Guessand and Bamba both featured for France at youth level, while Bamba’s former Elephants Under-23 teammate Mohamed Diomande of Rangers is another new addition after opting to represent Cote d’Ivoire over Ghana.

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Middlesbrough striker Emmanuel Latte Lath completes the influx of new faces as Faé looks to build for the future while keeping one eye on this year’s qualifiers.

While the quintet of uncapped players grabbed the headlines, there were also recalls for the likes of Rennes midfielder Guela Doue, who scored a crucial goal against Uruguay in March.

However, several big names from February’s  AFCON triumph have missed out, including captain Serge Aurier and fellow defender Eric Bailly due to a lack of game time at club level.

They are joined by Ibrahim Sangare, Karim Konate, Christian Kouame and Jean Krasso in being omitted, while there is no place in the 26-man squad for Wilfried Zaha despite Faé holding talks with the Galatasaray winger about a potential return.

Star names such as Franck Kessie, Sebastien Haller, Evan N’Dicka, Seko Fofana and Yahi Fofana have all been retained as the spine of Faé’s squad for the crucial double-header.

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The Elephants currently top Group F but know maximum points against Gabon and Kenya could prove crucial in their bid to secure one of the section’s prized spots in North America in two years’ time.

Full squad


Goalkeepers : Yahia Fofana (Angers), Badra Ali (Sekhukhune), Mohamed Koné (Dunkirk)

Defenders : Willy Boly (Nottingham), Christopher Operi (Havre), Ousmane Diomande (Sporting), Odilon Kossounou (Leverkusen), Evan Ndicka (Roma), Ghislain Konan (Al-Fayha), Guela Doue (Rennes), Wilfried Singo (Monaco ), Emmanuel Agbadou (Reims)

Midfielders : Mohamed Diomande (Rangers), Franck Kessie (Al-Ahli), Jean Michael Seri (Hull), Seko Fofana (Al Ettifaq), Lazare Amani (Union SG), Habib Traore (Napoli)

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Forwards : Mohamed Bamba (Lorient), Sebastien Haller (Dortmund), Evan Guessand (Nice), Oumar Diakite (Reims), Jeremie Boga (Nice), Nicolas Pepe (Trabzonspor), Simon Adingra (Brighton), Emmanuel Latte Lath (Middlesbrough)

-CAF

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