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Monday, December 3, 2018

Disappointment, urgency and uncertainties after the CAN 2019 withdrawal in Cameroon

After months of controversy and the last long hours of talks, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has decided that the final phase of the 2019 African Cup of Nations will not take place in Cameroon. A choice that clashes with the land of the Indomitable Lions and raises many questions, including a major: who will organize the next continental meeting?

The Executive Committee (ComEx) of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) made its decision on Friday, November 30 at the end of the day from Accra, Ghana, the host country of the 2018 African Cup of Nations. The next edition reserved for men, which will take place from June 15 to July 13, 2019, will not take place in Cameroon.

For CAF, Cameroon is not prepared enough 

In its history, Cameroon organized the CAN only once, in 1972. In September 2014, ComEx designated the country of the Indomitable Lions as the host country for this particular 2019 edition: it will be the first to take place during summer and to gather not 16 but 24 teams. However, the nation chaired by Paul Biya will not host the big continental event. Ahmad, the president of CAF, announced it himself.

To justify this decision, the CAF advances the lack of organization of Cameroon. In a long press release, the body states in particular that "the conditions of compliance have not been respected" and that there is a "gap between the requirements and obligations of the specifications of the CAN and the reality of the field. ". The CAF also states, inter alia, that it "heard the conclusions of the members of the security mission during its most recent visit". And finally, "the next edition of CAN 2019 can not be held in Cameroon". A decision that is "without appeal", the statement said. In a speech, President Ahmad recalls that his priority is "to preserve the interest of our actors and especially our players", and that "many were injured during the NACs for reasons of organizational conditions".

CAN 2021 in Cameroon rather than Côte d'Ivoire? "It's up to you," Ahmad replies. 

President Ahmad blew the heat and cold over the future of Cameroon and the CAN.In its communiqué, CAF "welcomes Cameroon's efforts to conduct ongoing infrastructure projects" and encourages the country to "continue along this path to reclaim its status as organizer". From 2021? As a reminder, the 2021 edition is supposed to be organized by Côte d'Ivoire, and that of 2023 was entrusted to Guinea.

But President Ahmad left room for doubt: what if Cameroon, deprived of CAN 2019, was finally granted the organization of CAN 2021? In front of the press, the Malagasy repeated that "the CAF makes a commitment to support Cameroon, to give time so that it can well prepare a CAN".And when a journalist asked him if it meant that the CAN 2021 would go to Cameroon, Ahmad retorted, "It's up to you."

Jean-Paul Akono: "We are really in shame"

Still, this decision, although expected, undermines the morale of Cameroonians.Jean-Paul Akono, the former coach of the Indomitable Lions, gold medalist at the 2000 Olympics with Samuel Eto'o, Patrick M'Boma, Geremi Njitap and the others, did not hide his bitterness at the microphone of RFI. Asked by Joel Wadem, the former coach said: "This is a total disappointment, a personal frustration, as for the vast majority of Cameroonians. (...) We withdraw this organization is like this CAN 1972, when we lost in the semifinal against Congo-Brazzaville. It's as if the sky was falling for the second time on a whole nation. We are really in shame. We were dragged in the mud. "The Cameroonian government has planned to speak in the day of Saturday, December 1.

South Africa and Morocco among the few candidates? 

CAF says a cabinet will be recruited and an "urgent call for new country applications" is launched. And everything should go fast. CAF promises: it will "ensure that a new host country is found by December 31". Ahmad "knows there will not be many", however. Some nations are already mentioned, although none, except Egypt (see below), has yet announced its intentions.

According to our information and those spread in the press, South Africa would be interested. The country has stages and experience; it is the only African nation to have organized a World Cup in 2010. For this World Cup, it had to acquire ten stadiums to international standards.Morocco would also be in the ranks, a few months after seeing the organization of the World Cup 2026 pass under the nose in favor of the US trio United States / Mexico / Canada. South Africa has already organized two NDCs, each time as a replacement country. In 1996, the "rainbow nation" took over from Kenya, unable to play its role. And in 2013, South Africa replaced Libya, in full civil war. Morocco, he organized the CAN 1988. He was also responsible for the 2015 edition, but he renounced, officially for fear of the Ebola virus.

Egypt, candidate or supporter of Morocco? 

A third country could run for CAN 2019: Egypt, which shares with Ghana the record of hosting the competition (four times, in 1959 jointly with Syria, in 1974, in 1986 and in 2006) . But the country's position is unclear for the moment. Two different versions were heard this Friday. RFI spokesperson Oussama Ismaïl, spokesperson of the Egyptian Football Federation, said: "We are interested in the opportunity to organize the African Cup of Nations. We will not say no. Egypt is always ready to host such events. Our military and civilian stadiums will be able to accommodate large numbers of supporters in complete safety. "

But at the same time, Magdi Abdel Ghani, a member of the Federation Board, entrusted, according to his press officer quoted by AFP:" Egypt will not present application and considers it there is a consensus for Morocco to host the competition. The North African Football Union (UNAF) would indeed be behind the Moroccan kingdom for this CAN 2019.