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Sweeping Changes for Africa Cup Calendar, Next Hosts

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA

New CAF President, Ahmad, who goes by just one name, has announced the possibility of changing the timing of the Africa Cup of Nations.
According to Egyptian publication, Ahram, Ahmad also spoke on the possibility of altering the qualification process for the junior tournaments – U17 and U20.
“I will be discussing with as many stake holders as there around African football to come up with the best solution for the problems,” Ahmad was reported to have told a press conference in Johannesburg after meeting with presidents of southern Africa’s football associations.
Ahmad said he would also consider switching the hosting of the Nations Cup from January to mid-year and also look at its two-year frequency.
“It is the big stars who make this tournament and I will be talking to them to see how they feel. This is something where we need to consider many different points of view,” he said.
African footballers at European clubs are under increasing pressure to forego the tournament because it falls in the middle of their club season.
Ahead of January’s finals in Gabon, nine players took the unprecedented step of turning down call-ups to play for the country in order to stay at their clubs.
In the past, Africa’s premier football competition was often held in March. It an initial experiment of hosting it in January at Senegal 1992, the competition adopted the January to February belt beginning with South Africa 1996.
It was also in South Africa 2013 that the calendar changed to the odd numbered year.
Ahmad said CAF would also look at regionalising qualification for its Under-20 and Under-17 Championship.
Phillip Chiyangwa, president of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations, said his organisation would also seek to reverse CAF’s decision to host the next three Nations Cup tournaments in francophone countries in West Africa.
The 2019 tournament is to be held in Cameroon, the 2021 finals in the Cote d’Ivoire Coast 2023 was handed to Guinea.
“They were politically aggressively awarded to those countries. Only one region is benefiting from all competitions,” he said. “There must be a commission of enquiry into how this came about and we are going to protest it.”
Ahmad takes charge of his first CAF executive committee meeting in Bahrain on May 8, just days before the FIFA Congress.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and the country’s most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Olufemi Samuel

    April 8, 2017 6:33am at 6:33 am

    It’s a step in right direction

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