Paris - South Africa could step in as hosts of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, according to the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad in an interview with AFP on Monday.
CAF has been studying alternative solutions for the staging of the June 15 to July 13 event after Cameroon were withdrawn as hosts due to delays with preparations and security concerns.
A final decision on who will host next summer's football showpiece will be announced on January 9, Ahmad said.
He added that for now "two or three" candidates had shown an interest in taking over from Cameroon, the Madagascan naming South Africa as having filed a letter of intent.
"According to my information, two or three letters of intent have arrived," the CAF president told AFP.
"South Africa is one of the countries to have sent a letter of intention. Two or three countries have made serious inquiries."
The decision to ditch Cameroon for 2019 has created a confusing merry-go-round. Ahmad said in an interview last week the west African country will now host the 2021 edition, originally given to Ivory Coast, who will now host the tournament in 2023.
The hosts for 2019, meanwhile, will be chosen from a short-list whose submission deadline is December 14.
"Everything will be finalised by December 25 to create a short-list of candidates who have been evaluated and noted," Ahmad said.
"The executive committee (of the CAF) will meet in Dakar on January 9, when we will make a decision."
In 2014, then CAF president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon announced the hosts of three successive editions of the biennial tournament: Cameroon (2019), Ivory Coast (2021) and Guinea (2023).
Amid confusion over how next month's decision could affect who will host subsequent editions, Ahmad told African television channel Media TV last week that Cameroon would host the tournament in 2021 while Ivory Coast would organise the 2023 edition.
"In 2021 they will be ready: we will organise the CAN in Cameroon. And in 2023 it will be held in Ivory Coast.
"That was the decision taken by the executive committee," he added.
Congo Brazzaville last week was named by CAF as a serious candidate to host the 2019 event, , before the country's sports minister played down those reports.
Ahmad would not confirm nor deny the country's interest.
"I can't comment on a country's internal problems," he said.
"You would have to ask their federation or government.