Egypt beats South Africa to host 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

Decision to name Cameroon's replacement was brought forward 24 hours

Soccer Football - African Nations Cup Qualifier - Egypt v Swaziland - Al-Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt - October 12, 2018  Fan holding a banner of Egypt's Mohamed Salah  REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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Egypt will replace Cameroon as the host of this year's Africa Cup of Nations finals, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced.

Egypt were awarded the rights to host this year's tournament during a meeting of the CAF executive committee in Dakar on Tuesday.

South Africa was the only other country to put forward their candidacy to replace Cameroon, which was stripped of hosting rights late last year. After several visits in which red flags were continually raised over the central African nation's readiness to host the June 15 to July 13 tournament, CAF announced in December that it would take the tournament elsewhere.

Perhaps anticipating that CAF would find its infrastructure inadequate, Cameroon entered the qualifying process for the 2019 Afcon despite automatically qualifying as hosts.

The Indomitable Lions, managed by the former Real Madrid and Netherlands midfielder Clarence Seedorf, are currently second in qualifying Group B with one round of matches left to play. Only the top two in each group will qualify.

Egypt only entered the running to host the tournament when fellow north African country Morocco announced they would not bid to do so.

This will be the fourth time Egypt has hosted the continental championship and first since 2006, when they beat Ivory Coast on penalties in the final.

It will be the first time the tournament has been expanded to 24 teams.

Egyptian football has been on the up in recent years. The country qualified for a first World Cup in 28 years last summer, although they were eliminated at the group phase in Russia.

Egypt also boasts a bona-fide superstar in Mohamed Salah. The Pharaohs and Liverpool forward enjoyed a sensational 2017/18 that saw him set scoring records in the Premier League as well as win a host of individual awards and crowned African Footballer of the Year, a title he is expected to retain at an awards ceremony in Dakar on Tuesday.

The country has many plenty of stadia capable of hosting international football matches with the Cairo International Stadium (72,000) and Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria (87,000) boasting the largest capacities.

However, the Egyptian authorities only recently started to allow fans back into stadiums for domestic matches after a three-year hiatus due to security concerns.

As well as security - Egypt faces a constant terror threat - the weather will be another challenge for players with conditions expected to be hot and humid.

The final round of qualifiers for the tournament will be held in March, with 14 nations, including seven-time champions Egypt, having already sealed their place at the finals.


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