Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algeria: All you need to know about the stadium Sundowns thrashed CR Belouizdad in CAF Champions League quarter finals

Mamelodi Sundowns’ 4-1 thrashing of Algerian side CR Belouizdad in the CAF Champions League at the newly-built Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algeria has made it a concern to know more about the stadium.

The significance of the compilation of this of information about the Nelson Mandela Stadium is driven by Mandela’s country team Mamelodi Sundowns playing and winning away from home and in no place than a stadium named after their former President Nelson Mandela.

It sound like, though in reality, Sundowns were playing away in Algeria to CR Belouizdad but in theory were playing at home at the Nelson Mandela Stadium that should have been found in South Africa but this time located in Algeria.

Sundowns’ feel at home in Algeria was exclusively evident in the game against Belouizdad with the Brazilians beating their Algerian counterparts 4-1 in the first leg of the CAF Champions League quarter finals. A brace from Peter Shalulile was strong enough against the Algerians at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers before Neo Maema and Cassius Mailula strikes each killed the tie though there was a consolation from Miloud Rebiai struck in the first halt.

The Newly-build Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algeria

As part of paying fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela’s legacy, Algeria decided to name the Baraki stadium to the former South African President. After construction of the stadium beginning in 2010 in perhaps ‘ a proposed Baraki Stadium’ by Chinese company China Railway Engineering Corporation, Algeria inaugurated the new 40,000-seater stadium ahead of the country’s hosting of the 2022 TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) in January 2023.

Initial images of stadium site 

View of newly-constructed Nelson Mandela Stadium in Baraki, a suburb of Algiers. (Photo: Algeria Stadium Projects)

At the inauguration ceremony, the Baraki arena became Nelson Mandela Stadium or Stade Nelson Mandela, a change of name that surprised many football fans across the globe.

“The national commission for the naming of stadiums has decided. Baraki’s new stadium will be named after Nelson Mandela,” Algeria’s minister of Youth and Sports, Abderrazak Sebgag said just days before the stadium was commissioned on Saturday.

Ghana the first opposing side to play at the Nelson Mandela Stadium saw their head coach Annor Walker said it rejoice him seeing the stadium (named after Mandela) after the Black Galaxies 0-0 draw against Algeria on 7th January 2023.

“Honestly, what I saw at Nelson Mandela Stadium made me rejoice. This is a gem which must be cherished by all Africans,” said Annor Walker to CAF.

“It has also fully convinced me that Algeria is serious about football and that for this CHAN, everything will go well as far as facilities are concerned.”





The construction cost of the stadium is estimated 300 million euros. The original plans called for the facility to be built in 2 and half years at a cost of around €100 million. However, it very quickly became apparent that it would not be feasible to meet this deadline and to fit into the budget. The quality of the ground on which the venue was to be built, problems with the availability of construction materials, and the financial crisis that led to delays in paying contractors all contributed to this. The COVID-19 pandemic did not help the timely completion of the investment either.

The first official match in the new stadium took place on January 7, 2023. It featured the host Algeria and Ghanaian national teams, whose squads consisted exclusively of players playing in their domestic leagues. The encounter ended in a goalless draw.

Ahead of the inauguration, Nelson Mandela became the venue’s patron. The late former South African president, who died in 2013, maintained close ties with Algeria, having travelled to the country in 1961 to train in the armed forces of the National Liberation Front. Mandela recalled this period as pivotal in his later battle against apartheid.

Before the start of the match, speeches were made by Djahid Zefizef president of the Algerian Football Federation, grandson of Nelson Mandela – Mandla Mandela, and Patrice Motsepe – president of the Confederation of the African Football. The ceremony was officially opened by Algerian Prime Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane. The event was also attended by a number of African football stars, including Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor, Roger Milli and Jay-Jay Okocha.

The most striking feature of the Stade Nelson Mandela is the roof with a huge truss supported by four pillars, which fully covers the stands of the arena. The venue’s façade consists of horizontal white stripes and glazing. It is surrounded by a training pitch and car parks. The arena has a playing field with natural grass, surrounded by two-tier stands with coloured seats. The stadium has extensive facilities, which include changing rooms, a conference area, media rooms, television studios, medical facilities, as well as hotel rooms and restaurants.

Mandela and Algeria connections

The naming of Baraki arena to Nelson Mandela Stadium was largely influenced by Mandela’s strong connections with the North African country.

Nelson Mandela had enjoyed a good relationship with Algeria, far removed from the apartheid setting in South Africa, as he trained alongside the armed forces of the Algerian National Liberation Front during his times on the other side of the government.

This unlikely affinity, then, unique because of the sheer distance between the two countries, was to have a bearing on the Baraki Stadium once it officially opened its doors, as was decided just a fortnight before the soft opening.

“Algeria is my country,” Nelson Mandela declared when he was released from prison in South Africa in 1990 after spending 27 years in incarceration over his fight to end apartheid.

Indeed, Algeria was the last country Mandela visited before he was jailed by the rulers of South Africa during the era of apartheid and was the first foreign country he visited after he was released from prison.

During the 1950s and 1960s, both South Africa and Algeria were engaged in struggles for independence from their respective colonial powers. South Africa was still under the system of apartheid, where the rights of the non-white majority were severely restricted, while Algeria was fighting for independence from France.

Mandela, who was then the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), was heavily influenced by the independence movements in Algeria and other African countries. He saw the struggles in Algeria and other countries as part of a larger struggle for freedom and liberation for all oppressed peoples, and was inspired by the Algerian people’s determination and bravery in their fight for independence.

Mandela in Algeria

In 1962, Mandela made a secret trip to Algeria, where he met with leaders of the National Liberation Front (FLN), the political party that led the independence movement. During this trip, Mandela received training in guerrilla warfare, which helped him and his comrades in the ANC to develop more effective tactics to fight against the apartheid government.

Mandela also formed close personal ties with many Algerians, including Ahmed Ben Bella, who later served as the first President of independent Algeria. After his release from prison in 1990, Mandela went to Algeria to thank the government and people for their support during his struggle against apartheid.

The government of the north African country declared eight days of national mourning in 2013 when Mandela died – an honour only reserved for Algerian Heads of State.

The close relationship between South Africa and Algeria has continued long after the end of apartheid with the two countries cooperating closely by working together to promote peace, democracy and development on the continent, culminating in the decision to name the stadium after the anti-apartheid hero.

This is a testament to the impact that Mandela had not only on South Africa, but globally for justice and equality with his message of hope and reconciliation resonating with people across the globe.

Mamelodi Sundowns CAF Champions League chances

Mamelodi Sundowns have been arguably the best side in the CAF Champions League so far and with their quarter finals first leg display against Algerian side CR Belouizdad, one can make conclusion that the PSL side is the frontrunners for this season’s title.

Sundowns is one of the only two teams that never lost a game in the group stage of the Champions League holding other favourites Al Hilal and Al Ahly in both legs of group stage games. They drew 2-2 against record holders Al Hilal before thumbing the Egyptians 5-2 in the return leg in South Africa.

Their quarter finals clash with CR Belouizdad was another true test for their chances to this season’s CAF Champions League. But after the first leg at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algeria with the Brazilians winning 4-1, a strong opinion is been held that Sundowns will progress to the semifinals of the Africa Champions League.

They will face the winner between Simba Sporting Club and Wydad Casablanca with the Tanzanian side leading 1-0 from the first leg in Tanzania. Sundowns will beat any of the teams in the last four setting them on the chances of meeting either Al Ahly or Raja Casablanca.

Al Ahly lead Raja 2-0 from the first leg with the Moroccan side having huge task to overcome the 2-gaol deficit against good away travelers Al Ahly. By this, Sundowns are likely to face Ahly in the CAF Champions League final.

For all this journey from the quarter finals, Sundowns’ exposure to the Nelson Mandela grounds in Algeria will have huge impact on their glory in the CAF Champions League this season?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *