Jun
07
2007
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Happy and proud

The Republic of the Congo may have been beset by years of conflicts, poverty and corruption, but the foreign visitors on the day are left with the lasting impression of joie de vivre, enthusiasm, hospitality, warmth and gratitude.
When Mvouba cuts a ribbon in the presence of Hayatou to open the stadium and hand over the artificial pitch, the new backless seats, done out in the red, green and yellow colors of the Congolese flag, are occupied by 13,600 jubilant spectators. Completed in less than five months and just in time for the finals of the Under-20 African Championship, the pretty arena is full to capacity, the first arrivals are said to have taken their places three hours before the ceremony began, even though it was a normal Thursday and the heat was sweltering.