By Bakary Ceesay
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) says it will consider restarting the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in October.
Football activities on the continent and around the world have been halted for the past three months by the coronavirus pandemic, affecting the qualification matches for the tournament which were to be held in March and June.
“What we can say is that all the confederations hope to be able to play again this year and each is making its own arrangements. In this regard, the Asian confederation has announced it will resume its qualification in October and November. And at Caf, we subscribe to this logic,” Caf’s Acting General Secretary Abdelmounaïm Bah told Radio Sport Info.
“The international windows scheduled for March and June have been cancelled, but the months of October and November 2020 represent a lot of hope. We no longer include September in the strategies because it will be quite complicated to have the teams travel from one country to another as early as September. This means that the matches can resume locally but international matches will be difficult to be held because of the travel factor.”Bah further stated that if they cannot make up for the Afcon 2021 qualifiers in October and November, they will have to think of another plan.
He also said Caf is considering postponing Afcon itself from 2021 to 2022. “We want to hold it in 2021 but January 2022 remains the second option for Afcon. As everyone knows, playing in June/July in Cameroon is difficult because of the weather conditions,” he said.
Also affected by the coronavirus is the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) which was due for April 2020 in Cameroon as well as the Africa Women Cup of Nations which was slated for November and Caf admits that both tournaments will be difficult to reschedule.
Recently, Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet suggested the qualifiers should be cut at this stage and the top teams in the various groups be allowed to go to the Cameroon finals. Many believed he said this because that will favour his team, The Gambia to reach her first Afcon.
Tom was among the first to call for the postponement of the qualifiers when the pandemic started. That suggestion of his came to pass.