Egypt Beats South Africa to Host Nations Cup

DAKAR – Egypt will host the 2019 African Nations Cup finals, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) confirmed after a meeting of their executive committee in Dakar on Tuesday.

The CAF Confederation Cup and the CAF Champions League trophies on display before the draw REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

They will stage the expanded 24-team event in June-July after initial hosts Cameroon were stripped of the tournament last month over concerns at the slow pace of preparations.

Egypt and South Africa were the only two countries to put forward their candidacies to replace Cameroon to host the June 15 to July 13 tournament.

It will be the first time there will be 24 teams at the tournament and the CAF, after several inspection visits over the last two years, said Cameroon would not be ready in time.

“We are ready to host the event tomorrow if needs be,” South African Football Association General Secretary Russell Paul told Reuters on Tuesday, before the decision was announced. “But we expect the vote will be a purely political decision.”

South Africa would have used the infrastructure built for the hosting of the 2010 World Cup if it had been awarded the tournament.

Egypt also has extensive football facilities, although in recent years attendances at local matches have been restricted because of security concerns in the wake of the Arab Spring revolution and Tahir Square demonstrations.

Morocco had been the favourite to step in after repeatedly promising to do so if needed but then surprisingly said it was not interested once Cameroon was stripped of hosting rights.

(Reporting By Mark Gleeson and Nick Said; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Christian Radnedge)