"Hosting AFCON 2019 good for Egyptian Football" - Mo Salah
The Egyptian forward, 26, was speaking after being crowned 2018 African Footballer of The Year in Senegal last week after beating his teammate, Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Gabon.
“It’s the right time for Egypt – as we have to be clear – our league is not a top league in Africa at the moment,” said Salah.
Egypt hosts AFCON at a time when football supporters across the country have renewed excitement, following the lifting of a 6-year ban on attending matches in September 2018. The Sports Ministry of Egypt had banned all football matches in Egypt in 2012, following a riot at Port Stadium, that killed at least 73 people.
"The fans are going to be back in the stadium, and everything is going to be back like before," he said, excitedly.
Egypt was named Host after beating South Africa, the only other nation to place a bid during a CAF executive vote in Dakar, Senegal. Cameroon was chosen first as AFCON 2019 host, but they were later denied hosting rights on the grounds of slow preparation and security concerns.
The AFCON 24-team finals commence in June, which means Egypt has got less than 5 months to prepare for the tournament, which they will be hosting for the fifth time.
Egypt also remains the most successful nation in The Africa Cup of Nations’ history, having won the tournament a whooping 7 times. (1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010.)
"I'm sure everyone knows about Egypt and the seven Africa Cups - we're going to look for number eight now, and this is the best time to start to be back like before.”
Hosting AFCON opens up countless opportunities to Host Nations, such as increased levels of global television coverage, sponsorship for national leagues from top brands, increased opportunities for tourism and financial boosts by local governments.