Morocco and Algeria are favoured to be named hosts of the 2025 and 2027 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments respectively, with an announcement to be made in Cairo on Wednesday.
Both are seeking to stage the 2025 edition of the premier African sport event, along with Zambia and a joint Nigeria-Benin bid.
Algeria also entered the 2027 contest, as did Botswana, Egypt, Senegal and a combined Kenya-Tanzania-Uganda challenge.
After a number of deadlines passed without the hosts being revealed, a senior African Football Confederation (CAF) official told AFP “the two hosts will definitely be named on September 27”.
Executive committee members will vote after studying independent appraisals of each 2025 and 2027 candidate, but politics and a promise of regional rotation have complicated matters.
North African neighbours Algeria and Morocco have an adversarial political relationship, which entered the football arena this year.
A ban on Moroccan aircraft flying over Algeria led to the withdrawal of the team representing the kingdom from the 2022/2023 African Nations Championship (CHAN) for home-based players.
Morocco had won the previous two editions and when its request to fly directly to Algeria was denied, it boycotted the tournament, robbing it of one of the title favourites.
Both countries boast superb stadia and infrastructure and football-loving populations and are capable of delivering world-class Cup of Nations tournaments.
But both would like to be the 2025 hosts with leading Moroccan and CAF official Fouzi Lekjaa causing a mid-year stir when he told local politicians that the kingdom would be chosen.
Domestic media quoted him saying “the Fes stadium will have the honour of hosting CAN (Cup of Nations) 2025 matches when Morocco wins the organisation”.
CAF president and South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe is acutely aware of the political rivalry between the neighbours.
“We must not get involved in what is happening between Algeria and Morocco. CAF should never intervene in politics,” he said during the CHAN tournament.
Motsepe has hailed the organisational abilities of both countries, who have each staged the Cup of Nations once with Morocco doing so in 1988 and Algeria two years later.
“Morocco has often flawlessly hosted major competitions while the CHAN in Algeria this year was the best ever,” he said.
During the CHAN, Motsepe said he wanted each region to host the Cup of Nations: “We cannot assign the organisation of the CAN successively to the same region.”
However, several months later, CAF secretary general Veron Mosengo-Omba said regional rotation may not always be possible.
“Today, only five or six countries out of the 54 CAF members are able to apply to host the African Cup. Consequently, it will not be possible to make this alternation,” he said.
What began in 1957 as a three-team tournament is now a 24-nation event featuring stars such as Mohamed Salah, Victor Osimhen, Andre Onana, Sadio Mane and Hakim Ziyech.
Hosts must have a minimum of six stadiums -- two with a capacity of at least 40,000 and four able to accommodate 20,000 or more spectators.
The Ivory Coast will stage the 2023/2024 Cup of Nations, which has been postponed from June and July this year to January and February next year to avoid the rainy season.
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