Morocco, projected hosts of U23 AFCON tournament are Africa’s most preferred hosts

Morocco, projected hosts of U23 AFCON tournament are Africa’s most preferred hosts
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Soccer Football – 2018 FIFA World Cup Draw – State Kremlin Palace, Moscow, Russia – December 1, 2017 Morocco are pulled out during the draw REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

Morocco, with five unsuccessful bids for the FIFA World Cup may have become the ultimate destination for hosting of football competitions in the continent.

They had failed in the bid for the World Cup in 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2026. Yet they are unrelenting and are planning another bid for the 2030 edition.

The kingdom, currently hosting the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) has also been designated as the host country for the Under 23 Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to run from 2 to 16 November next year. The two finalists and the second runners-up will secure tickets to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The award of the hosting rights comes after Morocco had also hosted what is the last one-match final of the CAF Champions League this year.

The kingdom has always being the preferred venues for other African countries for their ‘home’ matches. Sao Tome last month took their home match of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations against Nigeria to Agadir in Morocco.

Most African countries moved their home matches of the World Cup qualifiers to Morocco. Sports Village Square recalls that in the penultimate closing state of the Qatar 2022 qualifiers, there was a five-day seven-match ‘Festival’ of World Cup qualifiers in the kingdom.

.Within the period, a series of seven World Cup qualifying matches involving 10 countries including Nigeria were played. The kingdom possibly become everyone’s destination due to its world-class infrastructure.

With arenas in some of African countries ruled inadequate and coupled with unrest, instability as well as deteriorating health conditions in some of the countries, the ultimate destination turned to be Morocco.

The countries with inadequate facilities included: Sudan, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, and Liberia. They all opted for Morocco for their home games just as they did in the days leading to 2015 Afcon when owing to outbreak of Ebola virus, Guinea took their matches to Morocco.  

The ‘mini World Cup’ took place between  November 12 and Tuesday 16, as part of the qualifying rounds for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Tangier, Marrakech, Agadir, Rabat, and Casablanca will host the games.

If the seven matches are added to the eight Morocco had earlier hosted within the qualifying series for Qatar 2022, the country is on record as having most World Cup qualifying matches.  

The  games were:

  • Morocco versus Sudan on November 12 in the Prince Moulay Abdellah Complex in Rabat at 8:00 p.m.
  • Also on November 12, Burkina Faso played Niger at Grand Stadium in Marrakech at 2:00 p.m.
  • On 13 November in group C, Liberia played Nigeria  in Tangier Grand Stadium at 5:00 p.m.
  • The next day, 14 November, Mali played Uganda on at Agadir Grand Stadium before facing their Central African Republic counterpart on November 16 in Tangier at 5:00 p.m
  •  Guinea Bissau and Sudan in Group E also faced off on November 15 in Marrakech Grand Stadium at 5:00 p.m.
  • The encounter between Morocco and Guinea, took place at 8:00 p.m. on November 16 at Mohammed V Sports Complex in Casablanca,bringing the ‘mini African World Cup’  the series to a close.

Before then, Morocco had  hosted eight African qualifying matches for Qatar World Cup 2022, from October 12 to 16.

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