This is a write-up from the future – two days from now to be exact – when Nigeria will be announced 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) hosts.
We’ve been waiting and waiting to hear where exactly Africa’s biggest football tournament will be taking place from January 17 to February 8 next year. Two months to kick off and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) still doesn’t have an answer for us.
Original hosts Morocco asked for a postponement over Ebola fears. CAF stood firm, said the show will go on and responded by stripping Morocco of the hosting rights as well as kicking them out of the competition altogether.
So where to then?
Ghana said: “No thanks.”
South Africa, home of the last showpiece and a replacement host for Libya even then, said it was too expensive to do it again.
Angola, the 2010 hosts, confirmed they weren’t interested despite stadiums and a huge fan-base already in place. Lack of time was cited as one of the main reasons.
The ongoing delay
CAF’s chiefs are meeting in Cairo right now where they are plotting a way forward. It’s a headache, I can only imagine.
Part of me feels sorry for the custodians of African football. Part of me doesn’t.
Initially, African football chiefs were going to announce their plan B on November 11 which is late as it is. CAF had confirmed that there were a few nations interested in hosting this competition. On D-Day, however, they needed more time to decide and swiftly retreated to the deliberation room.
“Give us three more days,” they shouted from behind closed doors. “We promise we’ll tell you in three days.”
There’s a very interesting dynamic at play here which might explain CAF’s hesitance to tell us where the competition will be held.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles are the reigning champions. Their poor run of form in the ongoing qualifying event means they probably won’t even make it to … *insert mystery destination here* given the current situation.
But it won’t be the first time African champions haven’t qualified to defend their crown. Egypt has also been there before.
But for Nigeria and the football crazy nation, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
A life-line *Insert dramatic conspiracy theory music*.
Nigeria play a make-or-break qualifier against Congo this weekend. Falter there and their hopes of defending their title are over.
Unless… *fade dramatic music and insert something upbeat and happy* Nigeria are magically announced as the Africa Cup of Nations hosts.
This way, they will be able to compete as hosts and stand a chance of defending their title.
It would certainly explain why CAF needs just a few more days before announcing Plan B.
In the face of constant delays from the suits at CAF headquarters, and in the absence of a definitive answer, all we can do is speculate. And this stands as good a reason as any (there aren’t many out there).
Meanwhile, I am packing my bags for Nigeria. Because despite CAF’s nonsensical way of doing things, African football still needs my support.