Senegal’s new 50,000-seat stadium was opened on Tuesday with a legends football match following a ceremony attended by African and European heads of state and global sporting dignitaries.
The Abdoulaye Wade Stadium will host Senegal’s international matches, with its first competitive game set to be the second leg of the 2022 World Cup qualifying play-off between the Teranga Lions and Egypt on 29 March.
The ground, named after the country’s president from 2000 to 2012, is in Diamniadio, a city which is being built about 30 kilometres from the capital Dakar.
The inauguration of the stadium comes just weeks after Senegal were crowned continental champions for the first time at any level, beating Egypt on penalties in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations on 6 February.
“It is in this beautiful den that our valiant lions will celebrate their conquest of Africa and the world,” Senegal’s President Macky Sall said.
The Turkish-built stadium, constructed at a reported cost of $270 million, will host the Summer Youth Olympics in 2026, and was filled with fans waving Senegal’s green, yellow and red flag.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took part in a ceremonial kick-off ahead of a legends game, with former Senegal midfielder Kalilou Fadiga – a member of the team which reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup – scoring the first goal in the stadium.
El Hadji Diouf, Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba, former Ghana forward Asamoah Gyan and ex-Nigeria striker Daniel Amokachi were among the other former professionals playing.
Also in attendance were the presidents of Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Rwanda and Germany, as well as Gianni Infantino, the president of world governing body Fifa, and Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe.