By Adedapo Adesanya
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has postponed the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations to January 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 33rd edition of the biennial tournament was due to begin in Cameroon on January 9, 2021, but has now been pushed back to January 2022 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic across the continent.
The African Nations Championship (CHAN) for home-based footballers, which was to take place in April this year, has now been rescheduled to January 2021. Cameroon is to host both competitions.
In a news conference to announce this, CAF president, Mr Ahmad Ahmad, said, “Health is our number one priority. We must remain vigilant.”
By this decision, the biannual tournament will now be organised in the same year as the 2022 World Cup. The last time both tournaments were held in the same year was 2010.
The Africa Cup of Nations was long-held during January and February, but moved to a June – July schedule ahead of the 2019 event, with newly elected president Ahmad Ahmad keen to avoid the club-vs-country disputes that often overshadowed a tournament being played during the European winter.
Aside from the change, the Africa Cup of Nations, which was held in January was moved to the summer to prevent clashing with the major European league competitions.
The African football’s governing body has not announced whether the 34th edition of the tournament, scheduled for Ivory Coast in 2023, will also be pushed back.
Meanwhile, the women’s version of the tournament has been cancelled, while CAF has announced the inauguration of a new women’s Champions League, which will begin in 2021.
CAF has announced that Cameroon and Morocco will host the semi-final and final of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup respectively.
Both the semifinal and final will be staged on a one-legged basis, changing from the usual format that has been played on a home and away basis.
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