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SA, Morocco in bitter battle to host AFCON

Danny Jordaan (Gallo)
Danny Jordaan (Gallo)

Cape Town - Like two perennial, bitterly-inclined contenders uncannily coming face-to-face in eking prominence, South Africa and Morocco are now seemingly engaged in a further confrontation as they bid to replace CAF-deposed, under-prepared Cameroon as the hosts of next year's African Cup of Nations.

Of course, there are other nations who might deem it an honour to stage the continent's premier soccer event, but as CAF president Ahmad Ahmad has conceded "there are unlikely to be many with the facilities, finance and manpower to undertake the task at such short notice."

The CAF president has also revealed that a task force will be put into force to consider within the next three weeks all the willing applicants to stage the AFCON finals before coming up with a decision - effectively disputing the assertion of SAFA president Danny Jordaan that CAF have already requested South Africa to host the event.

"We are keen on staging the tournament," said Jordaan, "and believe we have the facilities and manpower to undertake the task”

The SAFA president, however, declared that government approval and, no doubt, financial support for an organisation that suffered an R18 million deficit in the past financial year, needed to go forward with the proposition.

Morocco officials, meanwhile, have expressed a readiness, desire and suitability to take over as AFCON hosts, continuing a rivalry that contained controversial undertones and which culminated in the awarding of the hosting of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.

And Morocco's disillusion with South Africa surfaced again over the FIFA vote to stage the 2026 World Cup in which South Africa sided with the joint bid of the United States, Canada and Mexico instead of their African colleagues.

Indeed what many see as a rivalry between northern and southern African nations surfacing, with Moroccan and South African voices prominent in the division, came to the fore again this year when Jordaan's ambition to secure prestigious African representation on the FIFA Council was thwarted  by CAF voting for a less publicised underdog candidate - and Morocco playing no small role in the choice.

So while Jordaan will be seeking to drum up government support, several North African countries have already proclaimed Morocco as the logical choice to stage next year's AFCON, with South Africa clearly not an automatic choice and the north v south rivalry coming to the fore once again before the dust is settled…

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