BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Coupe d’Afrique des nations (CAN) is what the Moroccans call the Africa Cup of Nations.
The kingdom has put up more interest in hosting the competition than any other bidding country has done, even as CAF has indefinitely and quietly shifted the announcement of the host for the competition that is expected to return to the original odd year calendar.
In terms of facility and infrastructure as well as generation of public interest in the continental prime sports competition, no bidding nation has done as much as Morocco have done.
The North African kingdom has been the ultimate destination for the hosting of top-notch sporting events, especially football. Most African countries without approved arenas have found the kingdom the ultimate destination as there are facilities are always on ready mode.
Within few weeks last December of being designated as hosts of the 2022 FIFA Club World Cup, Morocco hosted one of the seamless tournaments in which all participating clubs felt at home.
Carlo Ancelotti, the Real Madrid coach also commended the atmosphere occasioned in Morocco.
“We have had a fantastic atmosphere. The people and the fans have respected us. We are delighted to be here. We leave very happy”, remarked the famous Italian coach who achieved his ninth title with Real Madrid.
It was the third time that Morocco played host to the elite club competition. In the period of the last Club World Cup, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) also played hosts to over 150 journalists across Africa.
They stayed for 10 days.
“We saw how the Club World Cup was perfectly organised, while Morocco only had a month to prepare. If the Kingdom managed all that in such a short time, it means that they can still do more if allowed to organize a CAN in 2025”, declared Wahany Johnson Sambou, a Senegalese journalist correspondent for Africanews in Senegal.
He adds that “everyone was amazed by what we saw here. We were able to see the six stadiums approved by CAF and FIFA.
Another Senegalese journalist, Mouhamed Coulibaly, living in Morocco as a freelance since 2019 spoke in similar vein.
“I had the chance to visit several sports facilities in Morocco in the cities of Tangier, Casablanca, Maâmora (Salé), Rabat, Marrakech, El Jadida, Agadir, among others. From what I have seen, Morocco is even capable of organizing a World Cup”, he remarked.
He sees as an advantage, the fact that Morocco has been a home to many teams outside the kingdom.
Next month, Guinea Bissau will host Nigeria in Agadir in one of the qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. It was at the same Grand Stade d’Agadir that the Nigeria Super Eagles last year had their famous 10-0 defeat of Sao Tome and Principe.
Within the same March 2023, a near feast of African football will be holding in Morocco. Six countries will converge in Morocco for part of the qualifiers of the 2023 edition
It is the biggest assembly for the qualifiers. Those to play in Morocco are Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Mali.
Information from the Morocco’s Royal Football Federation (FRMF) has it that the federation has approved African football federations’ request to host AFCON 2024 qualifying matches in Morocco.
“In response to a request from a number of African football federations, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation agreed to host three matches in Morocco in March” as a part of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the FRMF said in a statement
This is in addition to Morocco playing a friendly match with Brazil in Tangier as their original Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifying fixture with Zimbabwe has been cancelled owing to the disqualification of the latter occasioned by FIFA ban.