Afcon 2019: Case of storm before calm

Tuesday December 4 2018

Going again: Cranes players run to celebrate

Going again: Cranes players run to celebrate after Uganda qualified for the 2019 Afcon finals. Cameroon was over the weekend stripped of rights to host the tournament over security concerns and unsatisfactory infrastrucure. Photo by Eddie Chicco 

By Andrew Mwanguhya

Kampala. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) have endured their own disturbing series regarding hosting continental tournaments.
From Africa Nations Championships (Chan) to the Nations Cup finals, the continental body have recently been thrown into the deep end by would-be hosts, or have at least had a team disqualified.
Kenya had to be stripped of hosting rights of the 2018 Chan tournament after the East Africans failed to beat preparations deadline.
The decision against Kenya provided a bedrock for reunion between Caf and Morocco, who had ‘broken up’ just four years earlier.

Then, Morocco had enraged the continental body by withdrawing from hosting the 2015 Nations Cup finals citing spread of Ebola fears.
Caf, then led by president Issa Hayatou, were to swiftly disqualify Morocco from that edition and grab a last minute meal with Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in search of a new host. The deal was reached and Morocco stayed home.
But when the moment availed itself following Kenya’s failure to meet minimum standards of hosting Chan, both Morocco and Caf were ready to rekindle the love.

Only that Uganda failed to win a Chan game there.
Fast forward to now, and next year’s event, you will no longer hear Cameroon Afcon 2019. Actually, the football fraternity is not sure yet which name to put in place of Cameroon because what is known for now is that the home of the Indomitable Lions will not host next June’s Afcon finals.

“After hearing the conclusions of the Caf Security Inspection Team during their most recent visit to Cameroon, Caf concludes that the Africa Cup of Nations could not be exposed to any issues that could impact on the success of the most prestigious African competition,” reads in part a statement released by Caf last Friday.
This decision, without appeal, will mean that Caf will now initiate an open and urgent call for new host country bids to ensure Afcon 2019 takes place next summer.” Caf went on to promise a new host will be known by December 31.

Sierra Leone gone
South Africa, Egypt and Morocco are some of the names that have been thrown about as possible hosts.
But even before Cameroon dust settled, another storm fell on Sierra Leone, the country being disqualified from Afcon 2019 qualifiers because of reported government interference in their football association affairs.

Sierra Leone were suspended from all football by Fifa in October and an investigation was launched. They have not played any qualifying matches since that ban.
The ban means Kenya and Ghana qualify for next year’s Nations Cup finals from Group F.
But neither them, nor Uganda – who qualified with a match to spare -, are not sure where they will play the finals from. Not even Caf. But they will definitely be played.