The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has made the decision to move the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to the months of January and February, going against its plan to have the tournament during summer.
The AFCON has formerly seen winter months at its traditional time slot and is due to take place from January 9th to February 6th 2021. .
The African governing body, currently being presided over by FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura, cited extreme heat as the reason why they they made the decision to move the competition, however it also now prevents a clash with FIFA’s expanded Club World Cup in June 2021.
CAF’s announcement follows discussions with the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), the host nation’s governing soccer body.
CAF Deputy General Secretary Anthony Baffoe confirmed the association’s decision.
“We have reviewed the period of the competition as requested by the Cameroonian party due to unfavourable climatic conditions during the period initially slated,” he said.
“After listening to the various arguments and viewpoints, and in particular from the Cameroonian meteorological authorities, the coaches and players; the representatives of the Afcon organising committee, which received the mandate from CAF Executive Committee to take the decision, has granted this request.”
English Premier League clubs are most likely to be affected with this news – the heavy scheduling around January time could mean that teams may miss key personnel for up to six games.
Some of the African stars that will depart across EPL sides:
- Liverpool – Sadio Mane (Senegal), Mohamed Salah (Egypt) & Naby Keita (Guinea)
- Manchester City – Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
- Arsenal – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) & Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)
- Manchester United – Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
- Leicester City – Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
- Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast) & Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
- Everton – Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
The biennial African national team tournament was meant to be hosted by Cameroon in 2019 but was reassigned to Egypt because of building delays, which lead to the Ivory Coast now hosting the tournament in the summer of 2023.
Despite having more construction time last year, Cameroon will need to get everything right six months earlier.
The 2019 tournament was won by Algeria through a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the final.