The Confederation of African Football (CAF) will discuss Friday in Accra the staging of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations following reports that host nation Cameroon’s preparations were in difficulties. AFCON The executive committee meets in the Ghanaian capital Accra on the sidelines of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations tournament, an official of the Cairo-based told AFP.
A report of the last two inspection visits to central African state Cameroon will be made during the meeting. CAF inspectors recently travelled to the country, which last hosted the tournament in 1972, to check security, infrastructure, stadiums and accommodation. After the executive committee meeting, a decision whether Cameroon should continue as hosts of the June 15-July 13 African football showpiece is set to be made.
If Cameroon are rejected, CAF will have to launch a new application procedure to designate another host country for the biennial tournament first staged in Sudan 61 years ago. Morocco, who lost out to a United States/Mexico/Canada bid to host the 2026 World Cup, have regularly been reported as possible replacements for Cameroon. At a September executive committee meeting in Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh, CAF noted “a significant delay in the realisation of the infrastructures” necessary for holding the Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
No plan B
However, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad declared the following month during a visit to Cameroon that his organisation “did not have a plan B. “CAF has never thought about withdrawing from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon… it depends on Cameroon,” he stressed after talks with head of state Paul Biya. In Sharm el-Sheikh, Cameroon Football Federation head Happi Dieudonne assured executives that “Cameroon would be ready” to organise the Cup of Nations. Cameroon is experiencing a tense security situation with persistent attacks by Boko Haram jihadists in the north and a conflict between the army and separatists in the two English-speaking regions.
The 2019 Cup of Nations will be the first to feature 24 teams — up from 16 at the 2017 edition in Gabon. It will also be the first Cup of Nations played during June and July after the last CAF president, Issa Hayatou, refused to budge from the traditional January/February timetable. The January kick-off meant many Africans with clubs in the leading European leagues had to leave their clubs in the middle of the season for up to six weeks. Cameroon, as hosts, and 12 other countries, including record seven-time champions Egypt, have qualified for the 2019 tournament. The other 11 places will be decided during the final qualifiers in March.