The Nigerian legend will be involved in the next phase of the celebration period for the African champions
Super Eagles hero Austin Okocha is one of a host of African football legends expected in Dakar, Senegal, on Tuesday, February 22, for the inauguration ceremony of the newly constructed Senegal National Stadium.
The construction of the Diamniadio Olympic Stadium, costing an estimated €238 million, began in February 2020 and was finally completed late last year. The 50,000 capacity multi-sports complex will host the Summer Youth Olympics in 2026.
And there is no better time to organise the grand opening ceremony than a couple of weeks after Senegal’s Teranga Lions rode to a historic first-ever continental triumph at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. A Sadio Mane-inspired side defeated Egypt’s Pharaohs on penalties in the final played in Yaounde on February 6.
And at a press conference on Saturday, Senegal’s Sports Minister Matar Bâ announced that the country is ready to host several African legends, including former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, ex-Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o, alongside Nigerian great Okocha, among others.
The continent’s stars of yesteryears, Bâ confirmed, will face former Senegalese internationals in a gala match that will be the first to be played on the new stadium’s pitch. The game will be followed by a presentation of the prestigious Afcon Cup to the Senegal people, with 40,000 expected to grace the occasion.
“There will be a match between the former glories of Senegal, of all generations, and African stars,” Bâ said.
“There will be Okocha, Drogba, (Patrick) Mboma, Samuel Eto’o and so many others. Of course, the (Afcon) trophy will be presented to the Senegalese people.
“The stadium, with a capacity of 50,000 seats, will receive for the needs of the inauguration, 40,000 people.
“The opening of the stadium doors is scheduled for 11 a.m. to allow all Senegalese to easily access it with the cards that will be distributed.”
Nearing a decade after quitting active football, Okocha continues to command respect and recognition across the African continent and worldwide.
Recently nominated as one of the English Premier League’s greatest dribblers, Okocha enjoyed an excellent career playing for clubs in Germany, Turkey, France, and England.
The former midfielder won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia with Nigeria’s Super Eagles.