Sunday Observer - - SPORT - ARIS – AFP

PCongo Braz­zav­ille has emerged as a strong con­tender to host next year’s re­ar­ranged Africa Cup of Na­tions, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior of­fi­cial in the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball (CAF).

Con­stant Omari, a vice-pres­i­dent of CAF, also said that the dossier of Guinea, hosts-des­ig­nate of the 2023 edi­tion, does not ex­ist.

“Congo Braz­zav­ille has writ­ten to or­gan­ise (2019),” Omari told Ra­dio France In­ter­na­tional.

“Our ( CAF) Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­thony Baf­foe told me that he was go­ing to tell me of a sec­ond can­di­date,” he added, without vol­un­teer­ing a name.

Morocco are widely con­sid­ered the favourite to take on the tour­na­ment, which was taken away from Cameroon due to de­lays with prepa­ra­tions and se­cu­rity con­cerns.

South Africa have also ex­pressed their in­ter­est in host­ing the 2019 edi- tion. Omari, how­ever, played down the Moroc­can in­ter­est. “Of­fi­cially, no act of can­di­da­ture has been de­posited with CAF,” he said. The de­ci­sion to ditch Cameroon for 2019 has cre­ated a con­fus­ing merry-go-round as CAF have now s uggest e d t hat Cameroon might host the 2021 edi­tion, which was orig­i­nally given to Ivory Coast, who would in turn r ep l a c e Guinea as host s of 2023.

T h e Ivo­rians re­spond- ed an­grily this week, say­ing that “no one in the fed­er­a­tion has been con­tacted or ap­proached by CAF”.

Omari in­sisted that dis­cus­sions were in­deed tak­ing place to en­sure the tour­na­ments go ahead with the amended sched­ule.

“There are things that go on at the ta­ble and ne­go­ti­a­tions which go on un­der the ta­ble,” said Omari.

“Through cer­tain channels, there has al­ready been of­fi­cial con­tact be­tween Ivory Coast and Cameroon.”

It looks in­creas­ingly as if Guinea will now miss out en­tirely on host­ing any of the next three tour­na­ments.

“We have asked the sec­re­tary gen­eral (of CAF) to dig out the file of Guinea, be­cause this sub­stan­tial dossier isn’t in the ar­chives,” said Omari.

CAF Vice-pres­i­dent Con­stant Omari.

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