AFCON Hosts Cameroon: Why CAF President Ahmad Says Country Must Prove Its Readiness

AFCON Hosts Cameroon hopes to meet up with CAF’s schedule, despite the seeming odds…

Africa’s football governing body -the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is excited about the recent changes made to the system. However,  it is not so excited about the forthcoming AFCON, with regards to host countries.

Following a decision taken by the confederation’s executive committee at the recent CAF Symposium in Morocco, the 2019 Nations Cup will feature 24 teams instead of 16. It will also, be moved from January-February to June-July. CAF added two more groups with some of the top losers from all group progressing to the round of 16 which has been added to the new change.

Cameroon Initially Bid for 16 Teams

With this new development, AFCON Hosts Cameroon will have to deliver a final in 2019 for 24 teams despite having bid for 16 teams. This has raised concerns among some stakeholders who have questioned the smooth implementation of the AFCON changes.

CAF has said that Cameroon will have to go out of the mediocre ways to prove its ability to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. This is because efficiency and competence are the factors needed by any host country to pull off the daunting task of organizing such a prestigious tournament.

CAF to Send Inspection Team to Visit 2019 AFCON Hosts Cameroon

Interacting with the media, CAF President Ahmad Ahmad confirmed that an inspection team will visit Cameroon later this month.

Ahmad refuses salary
CAF President Ahmad Ahmad

According to him, the leadership of the African football governing body will send experts to the country after which they will decide at the end of their inspection mission.

Ahmad who was speaking on a trip to Burkina Faso, emphasized that it is not CAF who will inspect the countries selected for the organization of AFCON, but the experts. CAF, he said, will only decide based on their report. He, however, failed to mention how the countries who do not meet up will be sanctioned.

Can Cameroon Pull this Off?

The eight-day inspection visit will begin on 20 August. Cameroon government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary has assured the people of the country’s ability to organize the tournament come what may.

Speaking in Yaounde, he also emphasized that the inspection mission is not aimed at sanctioning. According to him, it is for the purpose of making necessary changes and consultation in order to ascertain the state of preparedness. he said that the inspection is to enable the country to readjust as necessary, its strategies for the full success of the event.

Tchiroma also debunked reports suggesting that Cameroon was unfit to organize the forthcoming tournament. He cautioned the media to stop sending out negative signals which he said undermined the country’s ability to stage the big event. Cameroon hopes to meet up with CAF’s schedule, despite the seeming odds.

The recent changes made in the African tournament has raised some concerns among stakeholders concerning its quality. These people fear that more teams or more countries would mean more pressure and tension on organizers.

However, Some stakeholders in the likes of Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick who presides over CAF’s Nations Cup Organizing Committee, have expressed high hopes for the changes made. Pinnick in a recent interview said he believes that African football will be redefined as a result of the changes.

Timing Change

Per the recent CAF Symposium, AFCON will no longer be played in January/February but in June/July in line with Europe football calendar. It will, however, be continued to be held every two years as against the earlier proposed four years.