Accra, July 8, GNA - Officials and soccer fans have welcomed the decision by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to award Ghana the rights to host the 2008 edition of the African Cup of Nations. Most officials GNA Sports spoke to were of the opinion that hosting the tournament would afford the country the opportunity to build needed infrastructure that would help the development of the game from the grassroots.
Mr Kwasi Nyantekyi, Vice Chairman, Ghana Football Association (GFA) said he was not surprised that the country had been given the rights to host the tournament, considering the amount of work members of the bidding committee had done.
He said the margin of victory where Ghana had nine votes to three by Libya was a manifestation of the level of confidence that CAF had in the ability of Ghana to host the tournament.
Mr Nyantekyi said Ghana's track record in hosting such major tournaments in the past was one of the deciding factors considering the fact that "we stood in at the last minute and did a yeoman's job when it became apparent that Zimbabwe who had been awarded the rights earlier was not in the capacity to host."
He was optimistic that the country would live up to expectation by putting up all the needed facilities in time for a smooth tournament.
"I know that plans are far advanced to solicit for funds for the construction of the facilities needed to host the rest of Africa.
"I am also happy with what the windfall of hosting such a tournament as it would afford the nation the opportunity to put up the needed infrastructure that would help in the development of Ghana soccer in the long run".
Mr Owuahene Acheampong, Accra representative of the Ashantigold Football Club and a member of the Black Stars Management Committee said he saw the decision as a personal victory for Dr Kofi Amoah, Chairman of the Bid Committee who put in a lot of effort to ensure that the country got the opportunity to host the tournament.
He sees the tournament as a window of opportunity that could open several avenues for the local game.
Mr Acheampong said the international attention that the tournament would bring would help raise the nation's profile internationally, which the clubs stood to benefit from by getting better deals from the sale of their players.
"Look at the Greeks today, their players are selling like hot cake all over Europe, not because the other Europeans did not know they existed but, because winning the European Cup raised their status compelling bidders to have a second look at them.
"In addition, many training fields which would be built all over for the teams would afford the youth the opportunity to use the pitches afterwards to harness their talents for the benefit of the nation."
Mr Kudjo Fianoo, Administrative Secretary, Ghana League Clubs Association said the decision by CAF presented a wonderful opportunity for local clubs who would now get the advantage of playing on first class pitches and stadia which would help lift the local game.
He said even though there might be problems as adjustments would have to be made during construction works, it would be understood, as it was ultimately local football that stood to benefit.