Africa Cup of Nations Gets New Date, Expanded to 24 Teams
The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be held in June and July and has been expanded to feature 24 teams instead of 16, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed.
This comes after a two-day symposium in Rabat, Morocco organised by Caf president Ahmad Ahmad to discuss the state of African football.
Speaking after the meeting of its top executives Thursday, Caf said the tournament will expand for the first time since 1996 and be switched from its usual slot in January and February to the summer.
The tournament is usually held at the start of the year, causing disputes with European clubs who had to release players in the middle of the season.
Furthermore, AFCON will also be held exclusively in Africa and feature only nations from the continent following suggestions CAF could host the tournament elsewhere and invite non-African teams to participate and even host the tournament in an aggressive rebranding drive.
The expansion of the tournament could create problems for Cameroon, which will host the next finals, with the Central African nation’s sports minister Pierre Ismael Bidoung having to deny reports that preparations were behind schedule.
Cameroon are the holders of the AFCON title after beating Egypt in February’s final in Libreville, Gabon and qualify automatically as hosts, while the likes of Nigeria have it all to do after getting of to a rocky start in qualifiers.
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