The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has reportedly taken the decision to push back the start date of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations by a week.
The continental tournament is now set to begin on June 21 instead of June 14 and will run until July 19. Egyptian Football Association (EFA) vice president Ahmed Shobir announced the decision on his private television sports programme. “A number of North African countries asked the CAF to delay the opening of the tournament for one week because of fasting in Ramadan as well as celebrating Eid Al-Fitr,” Shobir said on the TV programme, as quoted by Ahram Online.
“CAF agreed with the countries’ request and the tournament will start 21 June instead of 14 June, and it will be finished on 19 July 2019,” Shobir added. The decision will also give Egypt an extra week to prepare for the tournament, having only been awarded the rights earlier this month. The North African county won a vote over South Africa (their only rivals) to stage the finals after Cameroon were stripped of the rights in November 2018.
The 2019 AFCON will be the fifth time Egypt have hosted the finals, adding to the 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006 editions. The following teams have already qualified for the 2019 tournament: Egypt, Madagascar, Tunisia, Senegal, Morocco, Nigeria, Uganda, Mali, Guinea, Algeria, Mauritania, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ghana. The draw for the group stage is set to be held on April 12 in Cairo.