2019 AFCON: Host nation conundrum, a concerning sight?

Benjamin Moukandjo and Pierre Webo of Cameroon wait to kick off after a goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Cameroon and Croatia at Arena Amazonia on June 18, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil.  (June 17, 2014 - Source: Stu Forster/Getty Images South America)

Benjamin Moukandjo and Pierre Webo of Cameroon wait to kick off after a goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Cameroon and Croatia at Arena Amazonia on June 18, 2014 in Manaus, Brazil.

(June 17, 2014 - Source: Stu Forster/Getty Images South America)

As African football wraps up the year, there couldn’t be a worse cloud than that of the AFCON 2019 event. At the beginning of December news broke about changes to the hosting country of the AFCON 2019 tournament. Cameroon, the initial hosting nation were stripped of the right to host the competition after security issues were cited as a leading factor to the unanimous decision agreed by the CAF executive committee during a meeting held in Ghana. Quite concerning if you ask me.

 

CAF stripped Cameroon of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament rights mainly because of security concerns hovering over the country. These include the horrific event that took place in 2010 in Cameroon, where a number of players were attacked by rebels from Angola, aside from the delays in infrastructure preparations, confederation President Ahmad Ahmad disclosed. To refresh the reader’s memory, gunmen attacked a bus transporting the Togolese national team to the 2010 AFCON in Angola, killing three people and wounding many others. As such, CAF alluded that they do not want a repeat of a similar situation, taking into account the political riots currently faced by Cameroon, which includes the Boko Haram insurgency in some parts of the country.

 

With all this in mind, one can't help but ponder a question as to whether CAF rather leave it too late before acting on this. Did they not see it when the hosting decision was made? I raise these questions because a lot of investments have gone into the preparations leading up to hosting the tournament in Cameroon, and to leave it up to the last minute before taking a stand is quite a cause for concern.

Democratic Republic of the Congo supporters arrive to attend the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group C football match between Togo and DR Congo in Port-Gentil on January 24, 2017. / AFP / Justin TALLIS  (Jan. 23, 2017 - Source: AFP)

Democratic Republic of the Congo supporters arrive to attend the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group C football match between Togo and DR Congo in Port-Gentil on January 24, 2017. / AFP / Justin TALLIS

(Jan. 23, 2017 - Source: AFP)

 

Now at the back of such disappointing news, South Africa have been approached to assist in taking up the offer of hosting the event which literally kicks off in mid-June. Hosting the AFCON would obviously mean Bafana book their spot in the 24-team competition automatically, taking pressure off coach Stuart Baxter who has had a not so convincing qualifying campaign despite remaining unbeaten.

 

Above all, Cameroon's failure to host the AFCON 2019 leaves a lot to be desired in terms of Africa’s readiness to not only host tournaments such as the AFCON tourney, but also some of the world’s biggest sporting events. Moreover, it also raises questions pertaining the ability of those in power on whether or not they are capable of driving the ship if such problems are still reacted upon and rather not proactively resolved. The final decision is expected to be made early January according to CAF. What do you make of the AFCON 2019 hosting dilemma?

With all this in mind, one can’t help but ponder a question as to whether CAF rather leave it too late before acting on this. Did they not see it when the hosting decision was made?
— Siphosethu Thwala, FirstTouch Africa