Hybrid lawn and solar energy… The ultramodern stadium of Senegal Abdoulaye-Wade

Senegal receives Egypt on Tuesday for the return match of the African play-offs of the World Cup-2022. At his disposal, the brand new Abdoulaye-Wade stadium, an ultramodern enclosure which claims the title of “the most beautiful stadium in Africa”.

“I’m not afraid to say it. It’s not the most beautiful stadium in West Africa. It’s simply the most beautiful in Africa.” On the eve of the very first official match in the history of the Abdoulaye-Wade stadium in Diamniadio, Senegal, it is a time of satisfaction for Djibril Diop, one of the engineers who helped erect the building. With this ultra-modern loudspeaker in the colors of the Teranga Lions, the africa champions 2022 have a stadium to their measure when receiving, Tuesday, March 28, Egypt, for the second leg of the World Cup play-offs in Qatara new remake of the African Cup final.

Due to the first leg result – a 1-0 defeat in Cairo, victory is imperative for the band of Sadio Mané. She can count on the support of her public. The stadium, with a maximum capacity of 50,000, should be “filled to the brim”, in the words of Djibril Diop.

“At the base, there is the book of Fifa, the bible of the requirements when you want to build a stadium to the standards. Then, we visited a lot and analyzed what is done elsewhere: the Stade de France, the Groupama Stadium [de Lyon]the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, Wembley… And then, we adapted it to our realities and our culture”, explains to France 24 this 32-year-old engineer.

The group of official supporters of Senegal is honored in the new stadium.
The group of official supporters of Senegal is honored in the new stadium. © Romain Houeix, France 24

The result ? An English stadium, that is to say without an athletics track around it, a rarity in Africa. The bleachers are tinted red, orange and yellow. In the middle of the main stand, the “twelfth gaïndé” is written in green letters. A tribute to the iconic group of supporters who accompanies the Lions of Teranga on all terrains, as during the victorious CAN in Cameroon. The enclosure also has everything necessary for the VAR [assistance vidéo à l’arbitrage] and “goal-line” technology.

In the changing rooms: a warm-up room, another massage room with balneotherapy. Each player has their own location, personal vault included, where their photo will be projected. Finally, alongside the classic tactical board, coach Aliou Cissé will have a television at his disposal where he can show images of the match at half-time to adjust his tactics. In short, the height of technology that many clubs in Europe would envy. Small additional detail: a prayer room for the most pious players, like its star Sadio Mane who never misses one of the five daily Muslim prayers.

In the mixed zone, at the exit of the changing rooms, screens broadcast images of historic matches of the Lions of Teranga. And to win the lawn, the players will pass under an inscription capable of giving them goosebumps and motivating them: “On the march towards victory”.

Senegal’s state-of-the-art locker rooms

The Senegalese national team will not be the first to tread this ground. On February 22, the place was inaugurated with great fanfare. In addition to FIFA President Gianni Infantino and CAF President Patrice Moptsepe, several heads of state were present: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President of Liberia, George Weah. The gala match opposed former glories of Senegal to an eleven composed of retired African stars.

A hybrid lawn

A few hours before the playoff game, the field is not quite ready yet. The goal nets are not deployed and the gardener meticulously inspects the last details. This lawn is also the ultimate in current technology. It is a hybrid model combining the best of natural lawns with the advantages of synthetic.

“We have an artificial carpet of synthetic fibers which constitutes the base layer and the natural grass grows in the interstices. We can easily have 800 hours of practice on this lawn. In addition, it is easy to maintain”, explains Djibril Diop, bending over the greener-than-life grass.

The stadium also has its own solar power plant. A feat made possible by the 5,082 panels of 450 watts each installed next to the building. “During the day, it’s simple. We are autonomous, explains Mouhamadou Ndgongo, one of the project engineers. Solar technology is not new in Africa, but integrating it into a stadium like this is unprecedented. no events, it will be possible to supply the surrounding infrastructure with electricity.” Cleverly, the signs also shade vehicles in the officials’ parking lot.

The stadium construction was entrusted to the Turkish company Summa. Built in less than 18 months, this new enclosure will have cost 134 billion CFA francs (245 million euros) to the Senegalese government.

“This stadium is a source of pride for us. There have been transfers of skills. The technology was imported from Turkey but carried out by Senegalese teams”, continues the engineer.

A modernization of Senegal

This stadium is also in line with major infrastructure projects launched by the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, since his first election in 2012. At the heart of this ambition, “the Diamnadio Millennium Platform”, the project of which dates to 2014. About thirty kilometers from Dakar, this new city should help relieve Dakar by exfiltrating a center of ministries and industries while offering Senegal a futuristic city: eco-responsible, sustainable, intelligent, connected… In this line, multiple projects have already emerged. Among them, the new Blaise Diagne international airport (2017)the Dakar Arena planned to host basketball competitions (2018) the TER line linking Dakar to Diamnadio (2021)…

“Diamnadio is part of the president’s desire to show that Senegal is a modern country. There are a multitude of projects to enable the Diamniadio sector to become a real African sports hub, enthuses Djibril Diop. All this augurs beautiful tomorrows.”

It was high time because the national team no longer had a standard stadium to play at home in international matches since the loss, in May 2021, of the authorization for the Lat Dior stadium in Thiès.

Still, there is still a bit of work. If the Abdoulaye-Wade enclosure is finished, it is not the same for its surroundings. For the moment, cattle watch the workers work, still enjoying the calm, while the road to reach the place has not yet been paved.

The entrance to the lawn should give players chills
The entrance to the lawn should give players chills © Romain Houeix, France 24

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