South Africa could step in as hosts of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, according to the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad in an interview with AFP on Monday.
CAF has been studying alternative solutions for the staging of the June 15 to July 13 event after Cameroon were withdrawn as hosts due to delays with preparations and security concerns.
A final decision on who will host next summer’s football showpiece will be announced on January 9, Ahmad said.
He added that for now “two or three” candidates had shown an interest in taking over from Cameroon, the Madagascan naming South Africa as having filed a letter of intent.
“According to my information, two or three letters of intent have arrived,” the CAF president told AFP in an interview Monday.
“South Africa is one of the countries to have sent a letter of intention. Two or three countries have made serious inquiries.”
The decision to ditch Cameroon for 2019 has created a confusing merry-go-round. Cameroon will now host the 2021 edition, originally given to Ivory Coast, who are now being asked to host the tournament in 2023.
The hosts for 2019, meanwhile, will be chosen from a short-list whose submission deadline is December 14.
“Everything will be finalised by December 25 to create a short-list of candidates who have been evaluated and noted,” Ahmad said.
– Confusion –
“The executive committee (of the CAF) will meet in Dakar on January 9, when we will make a decision.”
In 2014, then CAF president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon announced the hosts of three successive editions of the biennial tournament: Cameroon (2019), Ivory Coast (2021) and Guinea (2023).
Ahmad confirmed earlier reports claiming Cameroon would now host the tournament in 2021.
Cameroon has “agreed” to be hosts in 2021, Ahmad told AFP.
“I have the letter, I’m in contact with the president of the republic. We are in agreement for 2021.”
However the CAF chief is still waiting for Ivory Coast to confirm it would be happy to forego hosting the 2021 tournament and wait a further two years to play hosts in 2023.
“We’re waiting,” added Ahmad. “We took the same steps (as with Cameroon), we’ve sent the letter.
“On Monday or Tuesday there will be a meeting between the Prime Minister and the people who organise the CAN, so we will see.”
Congo Brazzaville last week was named by the CAF as a serious candidate to host the 2019 event, although the country’s sports minister subsequently played down those reports.
Ahmad would neither confirm nor deny the country’s interest.
“I can’t comment on a country’s internal problems,” he said. “You would have to ask their federation or government.”