CAF: Dates for 2025 AFCON finals still unclear

The dates for the next Africa Cup of Nations finals in Morocco remain up in the air amid a potential clash with the new-look Club World Cup, which is set for the mid-2025, Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe said on Friday.

The dates for the Cup of Nations were set for mid-year from the 2019 edition in Egypt, changed from the start of the year to avoid the clash of club commitment for players.

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But the last two Cup of Nations reverted to January-February dates because of concerns over the rainy season in Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.

The 2021 finals in Cameroon were also put back 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic while the 2023 tournament in the Ivory Coast takes place six months behind its original schedule because of concerns over the weather. It starts in Abidjan on Saturday.

CAF were expected to return to a mid-year date for the 2025 finals in Morocco, but this is now in doubt because of the expanded Club World Cup which FIFA has launched.

FIFA last month said the expanded 32-team Club World Cup would be held in the U.S from June 15-July 13, setting up a potential clash of dates.

Two African clubs have already qualified for the Club World Cup and traditionally players from Al Ahly of Egypt, in particular, and Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca also play for their national teams.

If the Cup of Nations were also to be held in mid-2025, it would be a direct clash. Motsepe said CAF were still deciding on the date but suggested it would be moved.

“We want the Cup of Nations to take place when it is most favourable and convenient for the tournament,” he told a Friday news conference. “We are still engaging with FIFA about the dates.”

The timing of the Cup of Nations remains controversial, but CAF held every tournament from 1968 to 2017 in the first three months of the year.

It became an increasing problem in the 1990s when more African footballers were signed by European clubs and then were forced to leave their teams in mid-season to participate.

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