Morocco, which canceled its participation in the CHAN after logistical delays, against a background of falling out with Algeria, will participate well in the continental championship.
On February 7, 2021, the Moroccan selection defeated Mali with a score of 2 goals to 0, on the lawn of Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The African Nations Football Championship (CHAN) is a bit like a repetition of the African Cup of Nations (CAN). But above all the opportunity for the countries to show their efforts in terms of training. Because the CHAN, unlike the CAN, brings together African selections exclusively composed of players playing in a club of their country.
CHAN 2020, first relocated from Ethiopia to Cameroon, then postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, was incredible. Whoever starts today will be even more so. The pre-competition will indeed have brought its share of intrigue. And brings out the rivalry between Algeria and Morocco.
Algeria is the host country of the competition. On the infrastructure side, Algiers, which is a serious candidate to host CAN 2025 instead of Guinea, from whom the organization of the tournament has been withdrawn, indeed launches the CHAN in its magnificent Nelson Mandela stadium, in Baraki, just inaugurated by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. But that's not where the controversy came from...
Morocco was to be CHAN's big favourites, after two victories in a row. However, this year, the Atlas Lions have announced that they do not want to play the competition, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) said in a press release yesterday. "The Moroccan selection is not able to make the trip to Constantine, in Algeria", explains, in a laconic way, the document. And the FRMF to specify that “the final authorization of its Royal Air Maroc (RAM) flight, official carrier of the Moroccan football teams, from Rabat to Constantine has not been confirmed”.
We know that between Algiers and Rabat, the diplomatic crisis that began in August 2021 had consequences on air links between the two countries. Algerian airspace has been closed to Moroccan planes. The RAM was therefore no longer welcome in Algiers. However, the FRMF did not want to change its habits and therefore kept its usual carrier.
Did Morocco jump at the chance?
Did Morocco announce its withdrawal from competition too quickly? A month after rumors of a boycott from the kingdom, it looks like a publicity stunt. Could Algeria have made a move more quickly? Or is CAF at fault? The Confederation of African Football had, according to sources close to the FRMF, obtained "authorization in principle" for this flight. But Algiers was slow to give the green light. The authorization for the theft of the RAM was therefore, in fact, not refused. But Rabat preferred to base itself on the Algerian delay and announce its non-participation in the competition.
The FRMF is angry with Algiers, but above all with CAF, which has not confirmed either the authorization for the RAM flight from Rabat, which was to land in Constantine. But since then, everything seems to be back to normal…
On the sporting side, several major football nations - Tunisia and Egypt - had already announced that they did not want to participate in CHAN, because of an overloaded calendar and, above all, transmitted too late by CAF. And Cameroon and Libya had indicated that they were not sure of going there. The CHAN could not take place without Morocco, defending champion. The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Thursday evening, assured that its players would leave once the flight authorization has been obtained.