Omdurman leads to more Sudanese success
This followed reports that the central African country had fallen behind schedule with preparations.
“We will replace Cameroon as the hosts of the 2019 Cup of Nations,” he told a Moroccan newspaper. “It is the revenge of history.
“Morocco have stadiums in Agadir, Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech, Rabat and Tangiers. Next year, we will also have Tetouan.
“The country will not have to invest one dirham to stage the Cup of Nations,” added Lekjaa, since chosen as one of three Caf vicepresidents. ZURICH: Usain Bolt’s rivals will for once be glad to see the back of a man who has dominated global sprinting for the last decade, but athletics will be far less enthusiastic about bidding a final farewell to the charismatic Jamaican.
Bolt has completed the sprint double at the last three Olympics and had he not been disqualified ahead of the 100m final at Daegu in 2011, the 30-year-old could have matched that feat at the last four world championships.
In an era blighted by doping scandals, the Jamaican has almost single-handedly kept the sport afloat, but his commanding reign will come to an end when he retires after this month’s world championships, finally allowing other sprinters a look-in.
In the simple matter of who will take his place at the top of the 100m podium either at or after London, Canada’s Olympic medallist Andre de Grasse appears to be just ahead of the pack as the leading candidate.
“(De Grasse) shows up when it counts. That’s the mark of a veteran, even though he has been in the sport not too long,” said Justin Gatlin, Olympic gold medallist in 2004 and runner-up to Bolt in Rio last year.
South Africa also has a new generation of stars, led by Akani Simbine and Thando Roto, although with their national championships taking place in March, peaking twice in one season could hinder their hopes of victory in London.
“It’s difficult to be running fast in March and having to peak for your nationals and still find a way to be ready at the middle of August,” said former 200m world champion Ato Boldon.
The door could also open for the US, a traditional sprint powerhouse but largely forgotten as a threat for a decade since Gatlin and Tyson Gay tested positive for illegal drugs.
Christian Coleman put himself on the map when he ran 9.82 seconds, the fastest time this year, at the US collegiate championships, while Trayvon Bromell won bronze at the world championships two years ago aged just 20.
But whether any athlete can come close to matching Bolt’s dominance and charisma is a different matter.
“You would have to have someone who is dominating; no one is doing that,” said former Olympic 200 and 400m champion Michael Johnson.
“You would have to have someone who has something special he has in terms of personality,” the American said. - Reuters His reference to “revenge” was aimed at former Caf boss Hayatou, a Cameroonian who suffered a shock presidential election loss to Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad last March.
Hayatou stripped Morocco of the 2015 Afcon when they pleaded for the tournament to be delayed over fears concerning the Ebola virus. Morocco believed visiting players and supporters could bring the disease into the kingdom with potentially disastrous results for the key tourism industry.
Lekjaa clearly has not forgotten is dominating discussions in Botswana, with scribe Bapati Mmotlanyane hinting that the “double” could be demanding for his compatriot.
“How good your body is in terms of shape and fitness and that is ultimately a reflection of the training programme you have been following,” said the sports journalist from Gaborone.
“Deciding on the 11th hour without considering the amount of work you have been putting in could be like a throw of the dice.
“Just last summer, LaShawn Merritt and Allyson Felix tried it, and they both couldn’t seal off the double feats. However, one of the greatest ever sprinters, Michael Johnson nailed a double feat at the 1996 Olympics, which is another reason to believe it is not a pie in the sky for the new generation of athletes.
“The more the competition becomes tight, the more such a decision could be less likely an option. And now you have Van Niekerk and Makwala whom we know their focus is on the 400, but their recent good times in the 200m have led to debate if it’s possible for or forgiven Hayatou, who moved the tournament to 2012 co-hosts Equatorial Guinea at the last minute.
Caf executives headed by Ahmad refused to dump Cameroon over reported delays to building programmes in Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua, Limbe and Yaounde. A Caf delegation will visit Cameroon next month to assess preparations.
An Italian construction company in charge of various Afcon projects said work would be completed several months before the then January kick-off.
That deadline has since been moved back with the finals switched from January/February to June/July.
However, while Cameroon now have more time, they must cater for 24 teams instead of 16.
Cameroon football boss Tombi Roko Sidiki said he had “spoken with the Cameroon hierarchy and the decision was that the country is ready to host the 2019 Cup of Nations”.
He lashed out at Morocco, without naming them, for trying to take the tournament away from them. “There are some countries who would like to host this tournament, but they should keep quiet and think about other editions, not 2019, because Cameroon will be ready,” he said.
Sidiki said his country, who hosted the 1972 Afcon when it was an eight-team tournament, backed the expansion to 24 teams.
“Cameroon have been regular participants in the Cup of Nations, but you cannot think only of your own country when discussing change,” he said.
Morocco has also hosted the Cup of Nations once, in 1988, when they came fourth in a tournament won by Cameroon.
HIGH FLYERS: Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine acknowledge the crowd after the 100m final during the SA Championships in Potchefstroom in April. Picture: BackpagePix