BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
The kingdom of Morocco is relishing the sweetness of winning the bid to host the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations which is most likely be the first to fall in line with the often disrupted calendar that CAF set in 2012 which set the continental competition to hold on the odd numbered year.
Since then, the Africa Cup of Nations has for 10 years suffered either a shift in timing or change of hosts.
The 2013 edition which originally was allocated to Libya had to move to South Africa. The same applied to the 2019 which moved from Cameroon to Egypt and the 2021 moved from Cote d’Ivoire to Cameroon and hosting the following year.
The 2023 allocated to Cote d’Ivoire also has to move to 2014. The sound organisational ability of Morocco coupled with good facilities looked set to restore dignity to the Africa Cup of Nations.
It was therefore not surprising that the 22-man CAF Committee overwhelmingly acclaimed Morocco.
Fouzi Lekjaa, President of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), has emphasized the uniqueness of the unanimous decision . He called it “ a culmination of development spearheaded by His Majesty King Mohammed VI over the past two decades across various domains.
Lekjaa also underlined that the choice of Morocco also underscores the country’s readiness to host major sporting events under optimal conditions.
“Today, Morocco, with unanimous African approval and without any debate, has the honour of hosting the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations. It is the crowning achievement of extraordinary work led by a Great King. It is also the finest reward for a football-loving nation,” he said.
He went on to state that hosting 2025 AFCON in Morocco is the first step, to be followed by another significant endeavour: bidding to host the 2030 World Cup jointly with Spain and Portugal.
In this regard, Lekjaa stressed that the Kingdom will transform this event into a “rebirth of Mediterranean civilization between the north and south of the Mediterranean,” noting that the African continent will rally behind Morocco to achieve this goal, which is also an African aspiration.
For his part, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, congratulated Morocco on its nomination to host the 2025 AFCON.
“I’m proud of Morocco,” said Motseppe, expressing his admiration for the Kingdom’s potential for organizing major sporting events.
Last February, Morocco welcomed several African journalists on a “media tour” to highlight its infrastructure and organizational capabilities to host the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The tour primarily served to demonstrate that Morocco satisfies all CAF standards in terms of stadiums, training grounds, accommodations, and health infrastructure to host the African football event.
Excellent sporting facilities dot the kingdom from Rabat to Casablanca, Fez, Tangier, Marrakesh and Agadir among others. Morocco has the honour to have hosted the Club World Cup thrice in 2013, 2014 and 2023.