Afcon: South Africa settle for second-best as Morocco win bid to host 2015 tournament

2011-01-31 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa discovered on Saturday that delivering a first-class World Cup is no guarantee of first preference when hosting the African Nations Cup.

It was largely a win-win situation tin Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the hosting of the 2015 and 2017 tournaments up for grabs and Morocco and South Africa the only candidates.

Morocco got the nod for 2015 after the executive committee of African governing body CAF met in the Congolese copper mining hub under chairperson Issa Hayatou.

South Africa, who outvoted Morocco 14-10 to get the 2010 World Cup, desperately wanted to be the 2015 hosts as football officials sought to build on the momentum of staging the greatest football show.

The SA Football Association (Safa) sent a delegation to the CAF meeting to put forward its presentation that was led by president Kirsten Nematandani. He was accompanied by Safa vice-president Dr Danny Jordaan and CEO Leslie Sedibe.

“Our preference was to host the tournament in 2015 considering that we have all the resources in place, but at the same time we are excited that our country will once again host the most prestigious football tournament on the continent in 2017,” Nematandani said.

“Today’s decision by CAF will compel us to review Safa’s 2014 vision — our strategy has to incorporate various aspects that will lead to the successful hosting of the 2017 Afcon.

“The year 2017 may seem far away, but the work starts now so that we are better prepared come the time. We congratulate Morocco and wish them all the best in hosting this project,” said Nematandani.

The Moroccan Football Federation also struck a sooner-rather-than-later line, saying that being 2015 hosts would “lift football to a new plateau and encourage professionalism”.

It will be a second hosting of the biennial tournament for both countries with Morocco finishing fourth behind Cameroon, Nigeria and Algeria in 1988 and South Africa defeating Tunisia in the 1996 final.

Morocco are busy adding to the top-class stadiums in capital Rabat and commercial centre Casablanca with Fes, Marrakech and Tangiers among cities likely to stage African fixtures.

South Africa have to avoid the one major embarrassment of 1996 when tiny crowds dotted large venues at virtually all the games not involving the national side.

Nematandani accepts that not all 10 World Cup grounds can be involved for a tournament event that traditionally uses four and suggested to the media that a bidding process would be used.

Equatorial Guinea and Gabon will stage the 2012 event — the first tournament to officially be co-hosted — with Libya next one year later.

An even-year tournament since 1968, the change to uneven years will end the four-yearly situation of African teams having to play in the Nations Cup and World Cup within six months.

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