A Nations Cup monopolised?
Harare – The 2017 Africa Nations Cup finals could be hosted in West Africa, giving that part of the continent an eight-year, five-tournament monopoly in staging Africa’s biggest football tournament, while East Africa continues to wait for its first chance since 1976.
Southern Africa, which hosted the 2010 and 2013 finals in Angola and South Africa, will have to wait for, at least, 10 years, before it can get another chance to host the continent’s flagship football tournament.
Interestingly, this comes against a background where the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have hailed Southern Africa for hosting the 2014 Women African Cup of Nations, held in Namibia in October this year, and expressing concerns over the slow pace of progress related to the organisation of youth championships set for West Africa next year and in 2017.
The CAF executive, at its meeting in Cairo, Egypt, recently, hailed the quality of the organisation of the 2014 African Women Championships, which was won by Nigeria, in yet another massive vote of confidence in Southern Africa’s capacity to organise such major tournaments.
The CAF leadership said Namibia, on the basis of the excellence in which it staged the 2014 African Women Championships, was now ready to host other major tournaments, including its flagship African Cup of Nations finals.
“Following consideration of the report of the competition, which was held from October 11 to 25, 2014 in Namibia, where Nigeria emerged victors,” CAF said in one of its resolutions.
“The CAF President shared with other (executive) members of his admiration of the beauty of the country, the quality of the organisation of the competition and the support of the highest authorities in making a success of the event.
“The country stood readily available to host other CAF competitions.
It was decided to send letters of congratulations and gratitude to the Prime Minister of Namibia (Hage Geingob), the Local Organising Committee and the Namibian Football Association.”
But while Namibia flew the South Africa flag high, in hosting the 2014 African Women Championships, the CAF executive snubbed the bid by Zimbabwe to host the 2017 Nations Cup finals after the decision by Libya, to withdraw from hosting the tournament, over security concerns.
Zimbabwe, who have ambitious long-term plans of hosting the 2034 World Cup finals, put together a bid, to host the 2017 Nations Cup finals, two months ago.
But the CAF executive, in one of its resolutions, said Zimbabwe were one of the countries who had fallen by the wayside, by failing to meet the “set criteria”, with Kenya and Sudan’s bids also falling far short of expectations.
Ethiopia were the last East African country to host the Nations Cup finals in 1976.
Only four countries – Algeria, Egypt, Gabon and Ghana – will now be considered in the race for the hosting of the 2017 Nations Cup finals.
This means either Gabon, who hosted the tournament in 2012, and Ghana, who were hosts in 2000 and 2008, could land the rights to host the tournament, and if that happens, it could give West Africa a 10-year, five-tourney monopoly, in staging the tourney.
“Of the countries which submitted bids to the General Secretariat of CAF by the deadline of 30th September 2014, only four were determined to be compliant with the set criteria to be considered,” CAF said in its resolution posted on its official website.
“Those are for Algeria, Egypt, Gabon and Ghana. The Executive Committee will finalise the date on which to take the vote to determine the host country.”
If Gabon or Ghana win the right to host the 2017 Nations Cup finals, it means the 2015 Nations Cup (Equatorial Guinea), 2019 Nations Cup (Cameroon), 2021 Nations Cup (Cote d’Ivoire) and 2023 Nations Cup (Guinea), five-tournaments spread over eights, would have been staged in West Africa.
While CAF continue to favour West Africa, in hosting the Nations Cup finals, the continent’s football controlling body expressed concerns over the way preparations for youth tournaments, set for the same part of the continent, are being handled.
“The report of the inspection mission noted delays in the undertaking of the planned works, including notably the site at Mbour, scheduled to be the second venue of the competition, the other being the Leopold Senghor Sendar stadium,” the CAF executive said in reference to the CAF Under-20 Championships set for Senegal next year.
“The Executive Committee instructed the chairman of the organising committee of the CAN U20 to undertake another inspection tour in early December, before the final tournament draw.
“The president of the organising committee of the competition will travel to Niger in late November to assess the progress of works being undertaken at various stages as there has been a considerable delay (ahead of the 2017 CAF Under-17 Youth Cup).
“The draw for the competition was delayed and the Executive Committee has given Niger the last opportunity to catch up with the required works.”