Who from South Africa, Zambia, Algeria, Morocco or the Benin-Nigeria duo will host CAN 2025? CAF still has almost a month to decide.
We will have to wait almost a month more – or even more, according to the latest information – before knowing the country which will host the African Cup of Nations (CAN) 2025, instead of Guinea, whose organization was withdrawn by the CAN due, officially, to a delay in the preparations. On February 10, the Confederation of African Football was to announce the host country of the competition which will take place in two years. The decision should be postponed. Six countries are on the starting blocks: South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Zambia but also Benin and Nigeria, which have decided to submit a joint application. Already, the predictions are going well.
Last week, CAF announced a conclave during which it should decide which candidate will win the organization of CAN 2025. The host countries for the 2027 and 2029 editions should also be known.
What we already know is that a duo of countries will have a hard time finding a place among all the candidate countries. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine Benin and Nigeria winning the bet. Present for the opening of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria, the secretary general of CAF, the Congolese Véron Mosengo-Omba, indeed recalled that “each region will have the chance to organize a CAN. We cannot, for example, assign the organization of the CAN successively to the same region”. However, with a CAN 2023 in Côte d'Ivoire, it seems impossible for West Africa to host the CAN again two years later.
Benin and Nigeria out of the race?
There are therefore two regions in the race: North Africa, with Morocco and Algeria, and Southern Africa, with South Africa and Zambia. Egypt had organized CAN 2019, at short notice, to replace Cameroon. South Africa had hosted CAN 2013. Zambia is therefore the only country in the running to have never hosted a CAN. An advantage ?
Not sure. Because, recalled Véron Mosengo-Omba, “there are criteria to be respected for the choice of the organizing country. Means of transport, logistics, hotels and beautiful stadiums. Conditions that the applicant countries must absolutely meet”. This is confirmed by Ahmed Arbib, founder of the company 2A Entertainment, specialist in the ticketing sector and the anticipation of flow management. “The CAN is like the Rugby World Cup, only four or five countries can organize it, assures the specialist. Afterwards, with a competition every two years, CAF sometimes grants it to an outsider”.
Inevitably, South Africa, Morocco and Algeria all have their chances and are strong candidates. And with the organization of CHAN, Algiers will position itself as a serious candidate. “Our case is solid and consistent. Unlike other candidacies, Algeria has facilities that are already operational,” said Minister of Youth and Sports Abderrezag Sebgag when Algeria submitted its candidacy. A feeling shared by Véron Mosengo-Omba: "With all its infrastructure, Algeria has plenty of means to organize the CAN", estimates the CAF executive.
CHAN should leave traces
But Morocco is not left out, assures Ahmed Arbib. “After Morocco's success at the World Cup, Rabat will host the Club World Cup from February 1 to 11. If the organization is perfect and inspired by what has been done in Asia, Morocco could organize a huge CAN, or even a World Cup in the medium term, why not in common with Saudi Arabia, "said Ahmed Arbib who recalls that "the roads, the hotels, everything is done so that an event goes well in Morocco".
Still, the news of CHAN is not favorable to either of the two Maghreb countries. After the lack of cooperation from Algeria, which was late in issuing its flight authorization to Royal Air Maroc for the trip of the team from Morocco to Constantine, after an opening ceremony that was a little too political for CAF's taste and after Morocco's premature announcement of a boycott of the competition, the two countries risk sanctions.
An opportunity for South Africa? The country has, in the past, shown that it can organize a football event. Pretoria has already hosted a World Cup and a CAN recently. Suffice to say that South Africa has interesting experience in this area and infrastructure. And could benefit from the Algerian-Moroccan crisis.