Angola region’s last hope

Caf will meet at its Cairo headquarters on September 4 to pick the winning bid after hearing presentations from the five countries competing to host the event.

Angola is facing stiff competition from the joint bid of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, while individual bids from Libya and Nigeria will be presented to Caf’s 13-man executive committee, who will have the final say on the matter. Each CAF zone is represented by two members.

Each of the bidding countries were visited by a Caf inspection committee between July 22 and 10 August, in order to assess the state of their facilities. The five-man committee is led by Danny Jordaan ( South Africa). Other members were Walter Gagg (Fifa), Dr Adan El Guindy (Caf), Abel Mbengue (Cameroon) and Denis Mumble (South Africa).

The committee assessed areas such as stadia, hotels, transport, hospitals, telecommunications and security.

During the extraordinary session, the 13-member Caf Executive Committee will designate the host country or countries for the 2010 African Cup of Nations.

In May 2006, the Caf Executive Committee short-listed Angola, Equatorial-Guinea-Gabon (joint bid), Libya and Nigeria. Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique were three Southern African countries to be axed from the May short-listing, a move which prompted the governments of Zimbabwe and Namibia to threaten legal action over their omission from the top five.

However, this weekend will present an opportunity to Angola to show that, despite coming from a crippling 24 year-old war, the country is ready to hold this prestigious tournament. Angola will be the first country to present its bid.

Nigeria is seen as the greatest challenge, because Abuja looks set to use the hosting of 2010 African Nations Cup as a stepping stone for hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Nigeria has twice successfully hosted the Nations Cup, first in 1980, when they won the cup, and then, again, in 2000, when they co-hosted with Ghana.

“Since the world’s attention will be on Southern Africa in June 2010 for the Soccer World Cup, there couldn’t be a better opportunity for us to bid, Football Association of (FAZ), spokesperson Mwanza Mbulakulima declared, commenting on the chances of a Southern African country winning the bid.

Caf has more than once entrusted the responsibility of a soccer tournament to Gabon, and, recently, the oil-rich country gave a last-minute notice of withdrawal to host the 2006 African Women’s Championship. This had to be handed to Nigeria at the eleventh hour. The continent’s supreme football authority has been blasted for favouring oil rich countries in the bid, despite earlier assurances by Caf president Issa Hayatou that zones that have not hosted the African soccer showcase would be given first option.

Southern Africa has hosted the Nations Cup once in 1996, when South Africa hosted won the tournament on home turf.

Since then it has been Burkina Faso 1998, the joint bid of Ghana and Nigeria in 2000, Mali 2002, Tunisia 2004 and Egypt 2006. Ghana, who were debutants at the 2006 World Cup together with Angola, are hosting the 2008 edition of the Nations Cup.

In the 50 years of Caf history, North African countries ‘ where the Caf headquarters are based ‘ have hosted the tournament 11 times. West African countries ‘ where Caf president Hayatou comes from ‘ have hosted the tournament nine times and will make it a tenth time when Ghana hosts the next edition in 2008. East African countries have hosted the tournament three times, but not even once since 1976. Egypt ‘ which hosts the Caf headquarters ‘ have hosted the tournament four times and Ghana will host it for the fourth time in two years’ time.

Nigeria has already hosted the tournament twice ‘ including as recently as 2000.

Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, who submitted a joint bid, have not hosted the tournament before, while Libya were hosts in 1982.

August 2006
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