Argentina and Barcelona winger, Lionel Messi will flag off the official countdown to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon.
President of the host nation, Ali Bongo Odinmba, will, in company of the four-time Fifa Ballon d’Or winner, perform the foundation-laying ceremony at the proposed 20,000-capacity Port-Gentil stadium in Gabon’s commercial capital.
Gabon- co-host with Equatorial Guinea in 2012- are expected to invest in a number of infrastructures for a successful tournament.
According to the Confedration of African Football (Caf), Afcon 2017 matches will be played in four Gabonese towns, with another new 30’000 sitting capacity stadium to be constructed in the northern town of Oyem.
The 8,000-seater Stade de Franceville stadium, which hosted the quarter-final tie between Ghana and Tunisia in February 2012, is expected to be ready for the finals.
Libreville has two stadia; the Stade de l’Amitie, which hosted the Afcon 2012 final, and the Stade Omnisport Omar Bongo, which has been completely rebuilt, in the heart of Libreville.
The 2017 Afcon will run between 21 January through 12 February, 2017.