African Cup of Nations: men's competitions postponed to 2022, women's tournament canceled


Algeria with African Nations Cup
Algeria – current Africa Cup of Nations winners

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) moved the 2021 African Cup of Nations to January 2022 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the female version of the tournament was canceled.

The men's tournament was supposed to take place in January next year.

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Elsewhere, the African Nations Championship (Chan), which was due to take place in April, will now take place in January 2021.

Cameroon must host both competitions.

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“Health is our number one priority. We must remain vigilant, ”said Caf President Ahmad Ahmad at a news conference announcing the move.

This decision means that the tournament will be held once every two years in the same year as the 2022 World Cup, which was last held in 2010.

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It was moved to odd years in 2013 – this year's tournament, which takes place only a year after the previous one – in order to avoid such clashes that risk putting African teams at a disadvantage at the World Cup, giving them such an extended competition season.

Traditionally held in January, the last African Cup of Nations in 2019 was rescheduled for the summer to avoid a clash with major European League competitions.

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It was supposed that this would be the case in the tournament in Cameroon, but then it was postponed to January due to climatic conditions in the country and a potential collision with the club world championship.

This move means that the defending Liverpool Premier League champions will play the next season without losing their key striking power: Senegalese Sadio Mane and Egyptian Mohamed Salah in the international arena.

“I think this is a wise decision because there is very little time now and they could not put off until the summer,” said Nigerian coach Jernot Rohr to BBC Sport Africa.

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“I can understand this decision – we have more time to prepare our little boys. This is not all bad.

“There is a positive side to all this, and we have time for some friendly matches, as well as for the start of the World Cup qualifiers – we usually start this November and I think that we can follow the plan and still have time. The Afcon qualification begins in October, so this is a wise decision, and it will be a great year in 2022. "

Meanwhile, the abolition of the Women's African Nations Cup is not surprising, given that there was no host in the tournament, and not a single qualifying tournament was played.

However, the women's game received an impetus for the launch of the new Women's Champions League in Africa in 2021.

Analysis is a relief for European clubs, but tedious 2022

John Bennett, BBC World Service

Given the uncertainty of the six-month pandemic, holding the Nations Cup in January and February of the following year always seemed impossible.

This is especially true when you think that the last qualifying round is far from complete, and four days to play.

Postponing the tournament for 12 months was a wise option.

This decision, which, at first glance, has the greatest impact on international football, but many European clubs will feel relief today.

For example, think about what it means for a championship race next season; Liverpool would lose Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Nabi Keita within six weeks in 2020-21 if the tournament went as planned. This would certainly give an advantage to their rivals, but now these players will be available for the full campaign.

This may add weight to the argument that Jurgen Klopp does not need a new forward, and that the decision against trying to sign Timo Werner is not a problem.

However, for the leading players in Africa, 2022 will be a tiring year. Along with their club commitments, many will start the year with the African Cup of Nations, and then complete it with the World Cup in Qatar.

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