CAPE TOWN, January 8 – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Tuesday that Egypt have beaten off South Africa’s bid to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
“Breaking: Egypt @EFA will host the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations,” CAF stated on its Twitter account.
Cameroon, the 2017 AFCON champions, had been set to host the continental showpiece but were last month forced to withdraw after CAF cited behind-schedule preparations as well as security concerns.
This opened the door for South Africa to make a bid to host their third AFCON tournament, having won the competition on home soil in 1996, also having stepped in for the 2013 edition after Libya had been forced to withdraw as hosts.
Morocco and South Africa had emerged as early front-runners to host the 2019 competition before the former pulled out and then Egypt threw their name into the hat.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, South Africa Football Association president Danny Jordaan had admitted concern as to whether the decision would go the way of South Africa, who hosted the 2010 World Cup.
“If you compare South Africa with Egypt, we clearly have an advantage because we have the infrastructure, the experience…just everything in place,” Jordaan told the City Press. “The politics are another matter. Arab countries are very entrenched and CAF headquarters are in Cairo.”
The 2019 AFCON will feature 24 teams for the first time, up from the usual 16 participants.
The tournament has also been shifted from the usual January/ February time-slot and will take place from 15 June to 13 July, mainly in order to align with the European season, as many of the countries taking part have a high number of players at European clubs.
Egypt have won the tournament a record seven times, most recently in 2010. This will be the fourth time they will host the continental showpiece, the most recent occasion being in 2006.
South Africa must now avoid defeat away to Libya on March 22 in order for Bafana Bafana to qualify for the 2019 AFCON.
– African News Agency (ANA)