The newly constructed US$ 65 million Levy Mwanawasa Stadium was at the weekend used for the first time by the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to see if it meets FIFA requirements ahead of the June 9 World Cup qualifier against the Black Stars of Ghana.
Thousands of football fans packed the 40,000-seater stadium in Ndola on Saturday to watch a double-header featuring Copperbelt based teams - Zesco United, Nchanga Rangers, Nkana Red Devils and Power Dynamos, as part of the MTN-sponsored premier league programme.
Zesco beat Nchanga Rangers 2-0 in the first game, while Power Dynamos humiliated Nkana Red Devils 5-1 in the second encounter, amid cheers from soccer fans who sampled the ultra-modern stadium.
The sports facility - with two sports fields and a running track on the main field - has been constructed by China's Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company, which has incorporated a VIP portion, lower, upper and uncovered decks into the masterpiece.
Like Costa Rica's Estadio Nacional (National Stadium) and Gabon's Libreville Stadium near where the Zambian national team perished an air crash in 1993, the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium is one of Beijing's financially-supported sports projects in the country.
About 200 Chinese together with about 1,000 Zambians were employed to construct the sports complex, the only one of its kind in Zambia at the moment.
China is constructing yet another sports facility in Lusaka, the capital, which is going to have a higher capacity than the Ndola one.
Other facilities at the Ndola-based sports complex include a visual aid in form of a king size television system that shows games as they are being played and a vehicle parking space with an ambulance managed by the Red Cross in case of injuries on players, officials or fans.
Spectators have not been left out in the architectural piece, as ablution blocks with foot flushing water systems, air pressure driers and dressing mirrors have been incorporated into the complex design.
With local soccer fans using vuvuzelas, scenes at the Mwanawasa Stadium, rekindled memories of the Equatorial Guinea/Gabon Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals early this year.
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