BY KUNLE SOLAJA
As earlier anticipated, CAF has reverted to the old calendar of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Cameroon Football Federation, hosts of the next edition holding next year have revealed that the tournament will be played from January 9 to February 6 in 2021.
This as against the change of calendar that CAF announced two years ago, taking the continental premier sports competition to June – July, just like the World Cup in order for qualified teams to have full complement of their players in the various European leagues.
Leagues in Europe traditionally end their seasons in May making it convenient for clubs to release African players.
However, what was not considered by CAF at the time was climatic factor in most parts of Africa in the months of June and July which is often the peak of rainy seasons in sub Saharan, especially West and Central Africa.
Before Egypt 2019, Africa Cup of Nations was held in some of the previous editions in January/February. But the period also clashes with the peak of top leagues in Europe, which supply the bulk of players for the African continental tournament.
The tournament was first held January during the 1992 tournament in Senegal. It moved to the traditional March calendar in 1994 in Tunisia. It returned to the January February calendar tournament in 1996.
Ahead of January’s finals in Gabon in 2015, 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.