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Coronavirus: CAF Keen To Keep 2021 AFCON Dates

Coronavirus: CAF Keen To Keep 2021 AFCON Dates

The Confederation of African Football has no plans to cancel any of its forthcoming competitions because of the coronavirus pandemic, hoping it can reschedule all.

This would mean that the next Africa Cup of Nations will still be played in January-February 2021, despite this week’s 48 qualifiers being indefinitely postponed.

Meanwhile, great uncertainty surrounds this year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, a competition which was in trouble prior to the outbreak – with no host selected and the competition earmarked to start in November.

Elsewhere, Caf is awaiting welcome developments regarding coronavirus prior to rescheduling dates for both Africa’s leading club competitions as well as the African Nations Championship (CHAN).

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“As of today, no competition has been cancelled and there is no plan for that,” Acting Secretary General Abdel Bah said on Monday.

“We are working on different options to reschedule the competitions impacted.”

This week should have witnessed the third and fourth of the six rounds of qualifying required to determine which teams will contest the 2021 Nations Cup in Cameroon.

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Instead, no football has been played after Caf put all competitive matches on hold following the coronavirus outbreak, which has now reached over 40 African nations.

“We clearly hope that the crisis will be over by August,” added Bah, one of few staff to be working at Caf’s headquarters in Egypt, since many are working from home.

“If it’s confirmed, we could then play the Nations Cup qualifiers between September and November – and keep the dates of the Nations Cup.”

Caf had scheduled a round of Nations Cup qualifiers apiece in both June and September, by when the 23 team joining hosts Cameroon should have been determined.

The international windows in October and November set aside for 2022 World Cup qualifiers are now likely to give way to the delayed Nations Cup qualifiers.

World Cup qualifying for Qatar would then start in 2021, possibly continuing into early 2022 – with April of that year the current date for the World Cup draw.

With uncertainty surrounding the ends of 2019-20 seasons in Europe and the possibility of shortened 2020-21 seasons too, staging the Nations Cup in January is likely to reintroduce the clubs-versus-country rows that have often preceded the tournament.

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