Zim's Afcon bid faces strong challenge

HARARE - Zimbabwe will battle it out against six other countries for the right to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has announced.

The six other countries vying to host the finals are: Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya and Sudan.

“By the deadline of 30 September 2014, the Confederation Africaine de Football received applications from seven Member Associations for the hosting rights of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations,” Caf said in a statement yesterday.

“Nominations were opened on 23 August 2014, following the withdrawal of Libya, original host of the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, through a circular signed by the Caf Secretary General, Hicham El Amrani.

“The host country will be decided by the Caf Executive Committee during one of its sessions in 2015.

“The circular emphasised that due to the limited time frame for the organization of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, the Caf Executive Committee will focus on the host with acceptable infrastructure and facilities required (Stadia, Training grounds, Accommodation, Communications etc.) in making a decision.”

Algeria, Ghana and Egypt are likely to be leading contenders to host the 2017 Afcon finals considering the criteria that have been set by Caf.

Although they last hosted the Afcon finals way back in 1990, Algeria are the favourites to land the right to host the 2017 finals.

The country had at first sent in a bid to host either the 2019, 2021 or 2023 finals but they were unsuccessful.

Caf last month announced Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Guinea s the host for the above mentioned Afcon finals respectively which left Algeria in the cold.

The North African country, however, decided to throw their name in the hat for the 2017 finals considering they had already made plans in place to host the competition.

Egypt last hosted Africa’s premier football competition back in 2006 when the Pharaohs were the dominant team on the continent.

The North African country won the competition after beating the Ivory Coast 4-2 on penalties.

The country’s infrastructure suffered drastically during the civil unrest that occurred during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011 that resulted in the toppling of Hosni Mubarak.

According to the Wall Street Journal, new Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s reform agenda is centred on economic reform.

The International Monitory Fund is currently in talks with Egyptian officials to resume funding to the North African country by the end of this year.

Another major advantage counting in Egypt’s favour is the fact that Caf president Issa Hayatou has strong links with the country’s football officials.

The Caf headquarters is located in the 6th of October City, a satellite town outside Cairo, the Egyptian capital.

At the other hand, Ghana also recently hosted the Afcon finals in 2008 when Egypt successful defended their African title by edging Cameroon 1-0 in the final.

Ghana have a thriving economy and their infrastructure was upgraded considerably to host the 2008 finals.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe’s infrastructure has generally been stagnant in the last 15 years owing to the economic crisis the country has gone through.

The National Sports Stadium, Rufaro, Barbourfields, Mandava, Gwanzura and the Colliery are the local stadia certified fit to host international matches in recent years but their current state is not desirable.

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