Ivory Coast has reacted angrily to the possibility that they could be replaced as 2021 Africa Cup of Nations hosts by Cameroon.
After ditching Cameroon last week as 2019 hosts due to delays with preparations and security concerns, CAF president Ahmad Ahmad said on Monday that African football’s governing body could “give Cameroon more time” and allow them to stage the 2021 edition instead.
That would trigger a domino effect with original hosts the Ivory Coast dropping back to 2023 in place of Guinea, a scenario that has angered the Ivorian Football Federation. “No Ivorian state authority, nor any leader of the federation, has been contacted or approached by CAF,” the federation said, adding that a letter had been sent to the African body on Tuesday.
Countries struggling to meet deadlines for the building of stadiums, roads, medical facilities and other infrastructure has been a Cup of Nations problem for decades. Hosts Gabon were applying finishing touches to one stadium after the 2017 Cup of Nations kicked off.
From 2019, the competition will be played during the June and July instead of January and February to avoid the club-versus-country clashes that have marred recent editions.
Cameroon won the 2017 tournament despite a number of their stars, including Liverpool defender Joel Matip, opting to stay at their clubs in the middle of the European season. The Cup of Nations finals, which began as a three-team event in Sudan in 1957, will expand to 24 countries from next year, up from the 16-team format used since 1998.
This means that hosts need six venues instead of four, putting an extra strain on the finances and resources of governments, who bankroll the tournament. Morocco are considered favourites to replace Cameroon as 2019 hosts with South Africa — emergency hosts in 1996 and 2013 — another possibility.
Egypt have said they would not compete with another Arab country for the right to stage the 2019 edition of a tournament they have won a record seven times.