Cape Verde stadium puts on a show for World Cup qualifier

  • The Aderito Sena Stadium on São Vicente island hosted Cape Verde’s qualifier with Nigeria

  • The facility received FIFA Forward funding for improvements throughout

Back in 2019, everyone involved in football on the small island of São Vicente, in Cape Verde, had a shared dream; to create a facility worthy of hosting a FIFA World Cup Qualifier. Last night, this objective was realised, as Cape Verde welcomed Nigeria to the Aderito Sena Stadium, a venue which has benefitted from improvements throughout.

The municipally-owned stadium was supported by FIFA Forward funding and is part of a wider Forward project to improve football facilities throughout Cape Verde.

Mario Semedo, President of the Cape Verdean Football Federation (FCF) said “I feel proud and above all grateful to FIFA and its Forward programme,” he said. “Cape Verde has its own specific needs; we are a small and poor country. Sports mean a lot to us. We have a lot of challenges in guiding our youngsters. Therefore, sports are crucial for the development of our country.

“Everything, all of the Cabo Verdean Football Association’s activity right now is thanks to FIFA Forward. In terms of infrastructure, I have to highlight this: after 20 years, we have managed to put on a senior national team match in the city of Mindelo, because of changes made to the Adérito Sena stadium. We have other sporting infrastructure that we’re improving through the FIFA Forward programme and our own headquarters in Praia have been renovated through this programme.”

The renovation works included installing fresh bathrooms and dressing rooms, ensuring the ground is accessible for all spectators, improving press facilities and new hospitality areas, with FIFA Forward funding financing a total of over $600,000 toward the project. Head coach Pedro ‘Bubista’ Leitão is particularly proud to return to the Aderito Sena. “I’m very proud because the last time we played here, I was still a football player! I was the captain of Cape Verde,” he said. “The FIFA Forward funds have helped us, I think here we are honouring the funds.”

Cape Verde may have lost the game by narrow margins, conceding a second-half own-goal, but hopes for World Cup qualification are still high, as head coach Bubista’s men have everything still to play for. They are currently third in the group with Nigeria, Liberia and Central African Republic.

“It was a pity, because the own goal took place at a moment when the team was refreshed,” he said after the match. “We always fix our troubles as a team, we are sad, but no team can lose or win a qualification [campaign] in two games. I am very proud, mostly because we are going up against big teams in Africa, and we are competing at the same level. It felt good to be in the stadium. We have to be thankful to everyone.”