The Confederation of African Football, CAF, has postponed the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Afcon to January 2022 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The tournament was scheduled to take place in January 2021 in Cameroon, it has now been moved a year further to deal with the outbreak of the virus.
The women’s version of the tournament has been cancelled completely.
Also, the African Nations Championship (CHAN), which should have been played back in April, will now take place in January 2021.
Both competitions are set to be held in Cameroon.
Making the announcement this afternoon, Caf president Ahmad Ahmad said, “Health is our number one priority. We must remain vigilant.”
The decision means the biannual tournament will now be in the same year as the 2022 World Cup – something that last happened in 2010.
It was moved to odd-numbered years in 2013 – that year’s tournament coming only a year after the previous one – to avoid such clashes, which risked disadvantaging African teams at the World Cup by giving them such an extended season of competition.
Traditionally held in January, the most recent Afcon in 2019 was moved to the summer in an effort to avoid clashing with the major European league competitions. This was meant to be the case for the Cameroon tournament as well, but that was then changed back to January owing to climactic conditions in the country and a potential clash with the Club World Cup.
The move means that defending Premier League champions Liverpool will play all of next season without losing their key strike force of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to international duty.
Meanwhile the cancellation of the women’s Afcon comes as little surprise given the tournament had no host, while not one qualifier had been played.
There was a boost for the women’s game however with the launch of a new Women’s Champions League for Africa in 2021.
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