Despite continuing uncertainty about the continent’s football due to coronavirus, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) is still prioritizing a January start for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
The tournament in Cameroon is shrouded in doubt when many competitions will resume across the continent, where only a handful of leagues are in operation.
Caf itself has yet to confirm a restart date for any of its pandemic tournaments, with Cameroon being Africa ‘s sixth worst-affected country with almost 10,000 reported cases.
Four of the six qualifying rounds for the Nations Cup still have to be held.
“The Africa Cup of Nations is still planned for Cameroon from 10 January to 8 February 2021. That is subject to change as the Cup of Nations is still being evaluated, and the Executive Committee will make the final decision soon,” Samson Adamu, director of competitions at Caf, told BBC Sport Africa.
The acting secretary-general of Caf, Abdel Bah, told Cameroon media last week that ‘hosting the Nations Cup next January remains the number one goal for Caf amid considerations.’
However, if qualifying does not take place in the October and November international windows (playing two rounds each month), it is unlikely that the expanded 24-team tournament will take place in seven months.
Rounds three and four of qualifying, with the penultimate round in early June and the final round between 31 August-8 September, should have been played in March.
However, all these dates were canceled due to the coronavirus, whose true effect on Africa remains uncertain in several countries due to a lack of research.
If the Nations Cup were to be moved, the competition will be the third time the date had changed-after its initial January-February 2021 date had been rescheduled for June-July 2021 after Caf eventually decided against playing in the middle of the European season.