The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has confirmed that either South Africa or Egypt will host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
The news of Egypt’s bid comes just ten days after Egyptian Football Association (EFA) member Magdi Abdelghani denied that his nation’s governing body had any interest in hosting the troubled event.
Alongside Egypt, the South African Football Association (SAFA) has put forward the only other candidature for the competition, with a final decision to be made on 9th January. Cameroon had originally seen off competition from the Ivory Coast and Algeria, but neither has resubmitted proposals.
The South African bid has been described as the favourite to secure the hosting rights, but should the ruling go in the SAFA’s favour, it could lead to further confusion.
South Africa has not yet secured their place at the competition, with a final qualifier to take place in March. Traditionally, the host nation has been handed automatic qualification to the event, with Egypt already having confirmed their place at the expanded 24-team summer tournament.
Caf president Ahmad Ahmad has defended his body’s decision to remove Cameroon’s hosting rights for next year’s competition, citing both infrastructural delays and security risks as prime factors.
He explained that his main reasoning centred on avoiding a repeat of the 2010 disaster, when players were attacked by separatists in Angola. The Togo team bus came under fire from gunmen, with three people killed and others injured.
With Cameroon facing similar security threats from both the Boko Haram militant organisation and another armed separatist movement, in an interview on the Afrique Media television channel, Ahmad said that Caf “can’t take that risk again.”
However, since then, it has been confirmed by Caf that Cameroon will host the 2021 edition of the tournament, with the Ivory Coast being stripped of the hosting rights as a result, with Ahmad stating that the country is unlikely to be ready to hold the event. It is a decision that has caused anger among the Ivory Coast Football Federation (Fif).
Fif vehemently denied that the body had been consulted or informed of the decision to take the hosting rights from the country, while also stating that it only learnt of the announcement through the media.
The statement said: ‘The Ivorian Football Federation wishes to formally deny this allegation. No Ivorian state authority, nor any leader of the Federation, at any level whatsoever, has been contacted or approached by the Confederation of African Football before taking this decision.
‘In addition, president Augustin Sidy Diallo was in Accra to attend the final of the Women’s Afcon and at no time was he informed by any leader of the Confederation of African Football regarding this matter. The Ivorian Football Federation deplores this way of handling the subject.’