Africa Cup of Nations 2021 dates remain unchanged despite coronavirus, say CAF

GOAL | African football’s ruling body have said the tournament, to be hosted in Cameroon, will go ahead as planned despite the spread of Covid-19

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations will not be postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed.

Football worldwide has been on hold as a result of the pandemic, which has taken nearly 20,000 lives to date.

Recently, CAF announced the postponement of the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) indefinitely, after hosts Cameroon had requested the rescheduling of the biennial tournament.

However, this is not the case for the Cup of Nations – also to take place in the Central African country – after CAF confirmed the dates will remain unchanged unless the situation changes.

Acting general secretary Abdelmounaim Bah believes the qualifiers can still be completed within the remaining international windows for 2020, thus there is no basis for a postponement at this stage.

“For now, the Africa Cup of Nations is still scheduled for January to February 2021,” Bah told Goal.

“The only reason we would shift Afcon would be a situation that continues into the year 2020, and if this current crisis does not allow us to play all the qualification matches.

“We still have four qualifying days to play and we can play them in two international windows.

“We have four at our disposal: June, September, October, November. At this point, anything is possible.

“If we can’t play matchdays three and four in June, we will play them otherwise in September or October and we will play match days five and six in November.”

Afcon 2021 is the 33rd edition of the event, and is scheduled to take place from January 9 to February 6.

So far no team other than hosts Cameroon have qualified for the competition, with two of the six qualifying games played.

The 48 competing nations have been split into 12 qualifying groups, with the top two in each pool progressing to the finals.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in June and July next year, but was moved to January and February due to unfavourable weather conditions during the summer in Cameroon.

Other international sporting tournaments scheduled for this year – including the European Championships, Copa America, and the Olympic Games in Tokyo – have all been postponed until 2021 because of coronavirus.

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