By Etienne Mengnjo Mainomo
Despite talks in the nation’s political capital Yaounde and around the country as to whether Cameroon will finally host the 2019 African Cup of Nations, AFCON, following the resolutions arrived at during CAF Executive Committee Meeting in Rabat, Morocco government has reiterated its commitment to host the competition.
Shortly after the publication of CAF resolutions, sport pundits in Yaounde raised diverse views that the decisions will have severe consequences for Cameroon, host of the competition in less than 18 months.
Even though, the Minister of Sport and Physical Education, Pierre Ismael Bidoung Mpkatt had dismissed rumors that the 2019 AFCON was going to be withdrawn from Cameroon, analysts are still casting doubts as to whether Cameroon will host the competition.
According to sport analysts, the decision to Increase the number of teams from 16 to 24 beginning with the 2019 edition is a step towards telling Cameroon, they can’t host the competition. To them, increasing the number of teams means increasing the number of pitches to be used.
“This is unbelievable that CAF will be increasing the number of teams that will take part in the 2019 AFCON. I think they would have been thinking of the 2021 edition which is still far. I see this increment as a step or a way to finally take the hosting rights from Cameroon,” stated a sport analyst.
Going by the experts “the tournament holding in June and July is a good move but at a time that Cameroon is not having stadiums to host this competition is a problem. Cameroon will need to add two more stadiums to make six but the country engulfed more in political promises with nothing serious in action.”
Another analyst who spoke to www.lions4life.com pointed out that if Cameroon does not step up their preparations towards organizing the competition, CAF will have enough grounds to withdraw the competition.
Others said, “an AFCON with 24-team also requires hotel infrastructure, training grounds and means of transportation which Cameroon is not ready to add within this short period. In fact, a move to 24 teams will definitely prompt CAF to rethink the map concerning the organization of the 2019 AFCON.”
“Cameroon should take CAF to court for changing the rules while the competition is ongoing. That is breach of rules of the game. Anywhere, if the worst comes to the worse, the 2019 AFCON should be co-hosted,” lamented a sport pundit.
Meanwhile, speaking to the press shortly after the meeting, Tombi A Roko Sidiki, President of the Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT, said, “To me, the 2019 AFCON is underway and the playoffs have started. We are in a world of law and we are not going to change the rules of the game along the way.”
CAF also says, the move from 16 to 24 teams is falling within a more global logic of visible enlargement with the Euro and the World Cup. Without delay, CAF inspectors will be in Cameroon in early September to inspect the level of work.
Besides that, the competition will continue to be stage every two years especially in odd years and exclusively on the African continent and with African national selections.
In addition, the Committee recognized the urgent need to improved relations between CAF, its member associations, and the African Union. Also, the committee endorsed the principle of creating a framework for cooperation with legendary African footballers.