16 October 2014 20:20
Confusion reigns over which country will host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations amid reports that Morocco are to pull out over Ebola concerns.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) refused Morocco’s request to postpone the tournament, scheduled to be held from January 17 to February 8, due to the spread of the deadly virus in the continent.
Following that decision speculation has surfaced that the north African nation is to withdraw from hosting the competition, although Moroccan government officials are now said to have scotched those rumours.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) is alleged to be discussing the possibility of taking over as hosts, however, the SAFA’s head of communications Dominic Chimhavi reiterated that no decision had been taken.
“On October 12th, SAFA received a written letter from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) asking whether South Africa would be able to host the tournament,” Chimhavi said.
“SAFA would like to make it clear. The bottom line is that no decision has been taken.
“A committee will meet tomorrow [Friday] to deliberate. No decision has been reached.”
But, while South Africa – hosts of the last tournament in 2013 – appear to be the front-runners to replace Morocco, the Ghanaian government has claimed that they have received a letter from CAF asking to be on standby to stage the event.
“It is only today that I’m hearing of the formal refusal of Morocco to budge on the issue of the date which means that CAF would definitely need to look at an alternate venue,” youth and sports minister Mahama Ayariga told Citi News.
“CAF wrote to us a few days ago actually and indicated that Morocco had given strong indications that they will pull out if CAF did not change the date.
“And CAF also indicated that it was firm on those dates but they will meet the Moroccan authorities and take a decision at that meeting.
“But in the meantime they are writing to a number of countries that they think have the capacity to be an alternative venue in the event of Morocco actually pulling out.”
Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has hit out at CAF for their handling of the situation, while Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has revealed that they are taking provisions against Ebola with stars Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote both having played in AFCON qualifiers.