Chief Mandla Mandela arrives in Algeria for Nelson Mandela stadium opening

Chief Mandla Mandela arrives in Algeria for Nelson Mandela stadium opening

Chief Mandla Mandela, grandson of South Africa’s first democratically elected president and world icon Nelson Mandela, has arrived in Algiers, Algeria ahead of the opening of the stadium named after his grandfather.

The Nelson Mandela stadium which will be opened this afternoon by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, CAF President Patrice Motsepe, and Chief Mandela, will host the opening and final of the CHAN tournament, which officially kicks off tomorrow with the game between the hosts and Libya. 

The CHAN tournament, which is contested by players from the domestic national leagues, will run from 13 January until 04 February 2023 and played in four venues around Algeria. 

Mandela had strong ties with Algeria which dated back to the 1960’s before he was arrested for the Rivonia trial, he had initially visited Algiers in 1961 and was trained by the armed forces of the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN). The FLN also in return provided the ANC with weapons during the days of the armed struggle. 

After Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the first country he visited was Algeria, and it was during this trip that he declared – “The Algerian army made me a man”. 

Approximately 30 years later, since Madiba visited Algiers, sport, and football in particular takes the centre stage as the Algerian government has taken a decision to name the stadium previously known as Baraki after Mandela. 

Interestingly, this is happening at a time when Motsepe, the first South African to lead African football is at the helm. Algeria also has a strong interest in hosting the 2025 African Cup of Nations tournament and faces some stiff competition from their neighbours and fiercest political rivals Morocco. 

Such are the deep bonds between SA and Algeria, that the official song for this tournament, Marhaba (welcome in Arabic) has got an indigenous Algerian language and isiZulu parts in it as well. 

Meanwhile, the spotlight this morning will also be on the meeting Motsepe will hold with the 54-member association presidents to reshape African football. Now with the albatross of the Lagardere legal dispute out of the way, after the mining mogul had confirmed last month about this settlement, this opens the way for CAF to forge ahead with other commercial deals freely. 

In this meeting, Motsepe is expected to present a turnaround strategy for African football in the short and long terms, focusing on the financial substantiality of CAF and its member associations.