Cameroon was stripped of hosting the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations due to delays in preparing for the continental showpiece, organisers the Confederation of African Football announced
The North African nation was always understood to have made the finals its more realistic target while bidding in vain to win host rights to the 2026 World Cup finals – for which it was defeated decisively by the United States with Canada and Mexico in a vote at FIFA Congress in June.
Morocco had been working hard to regain favour with the African Confederation of Football and fellow member associations after pulling out, at short notice, from staging the 2015 Nations Cup in because of the ebola outbreak in countries of several finalist nations.
Officially CAF president Ahmad had always insisted there was no plan to replace Cameroon but the staging had been in doubt, because of preparations failures, for more than a year.
Egypt has already discounted bidding to step in as substitute host for the first Nations Cup finals to be staged in the summer. South Africa is considering a bid but Morocco is expected to firm up its own application later this week.
Abdelmalek Abroune, a member of the national federation, told the AFP agency: ”If Morocco is a candidate, he would be the best placed. The kingdom has a strong influx of tourists in summer, it will be an ideal time to organise such a competition. The country has all the transport infrastructure and accommodation, as well as an experience in this kind of event.”
The country staged the 2013 and 2014 Club World Cup, the junior 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN). It is also hoping to persuade Spain and perhaps Portugal to join it in a bid to stage the World Cup in 2030.
Morocco have not won the African title since 1976 though its clubs have won the Champions League on six occasions. Wydad Casablanca were African club champions last year.
South Africa and Morocco are two frontline contenders to step in as hosts for the event – expanded to 24 teams for the first time – in place of Cameroon, who won the last edition in 2017 in Gabon.
Both countries, incidentally, were recently named as two of the continent’s leading investment destinations.
South Africa is the only African country to stage a World Cup, in 2010, and last staged the Cup of Nations in 2013