The 10th All Africa Games will officially open Saturday in Maputo, Mozambique. The quadrennial African sports festival was originally scheduled to be hosted by neighboring Zambia, but because of financial problems, the Zambians pulled out and the Mozambicans stepped in.
The Games, which go through September 18th, will feature competition in more than 20 sports, with one of the most popular expected to be the men’s football
tournament. Cameroon has dominated All Africa Games football over the past 20 years, winning four of the five gold medals at stake. Cameroon is grouped with Uganda, Senegal and Ghana in the men’s soccer competition, while the other group features Egypt, South Africa, Madagascar and host Mozambique.
The 42,000-seat Estadio do Zimpeto will stage the soccer matches and will be the main stadium for the All Africa Games. The stadium was inaugurated a little more than four months ago and was built with funds from the Chinese government.
Some of the other sports that will be contested in Maputo
include athletics, basketball, boxing, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, volleyball and weightlifting. When I think of athletics and Mozambique, I think of Maria “The Maputo Express” Mutola, the now retired 800-meter star who during her great 21-year career competed in six Olympics and won the gold medal for Mozambique at the 2000 Sydney Games.
As a young girl, the 38-year-old Mutola excelled in football, and she’s planning to test her skills again on the soccer pitch. Mozambique officials have confirmed that Mutola will play for the host country’s women’s national football team during the All Africa Games.