THE race for the right to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) served up another dish on Thursday with reports that Kenya and Tanzania had lodged papers for a joint bid.
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) deadline for the submission of bids is Tuesday and the winner, to replace war ravaged Libya, will be announced in April 2015.
Zimbabwe have indicated their willingness to co-host with Botswana after being snubbed by Zambia and a delegation from Zifa, the Sports and Tourism ministries returned from Gaborone on Thursday where they had gone for a “final push”.
Botswana, unlike Zimbabwe, had not been given a government guarantee, but the football association was now actively seeking that from their president.
But it emerged yesterday that there is further competition for Zimbabwe. The Tanzania Daily News quoted a source close to the Tanzania Football Federation as saying: “As Tanzania we have already submitted our bid to Caf and they have confirmed receiving it, and the joint bid with Kenya consolidates our chances of being granted the right to host the 2017 Afcon.”
North African country, Algeria is also in the race and it is understood they are favourites to win the rights after being snubbed for 2019 and 2021, which were handed to Cameroon and Ivory Coast respectively last weekend.
Caf has announced that due to limited time to prepare for 2017 Afcon, their executive committee would award a bid to a country or countries that guarantees that accommodation, transport, hotel facilities as well as training and competition venues already exist.
Botswana has never hosted the tournament before, but has already hosted continental tournaments at junior level. They hosted the Africa Under-17 championship in 1997 and just recently hosted the Africa Youth Games in May 2014.
On Wednesday, Botswana Football Association (BFA) chief executive officer Keith Masters wrote to Zifa saying they were waiting for a government guarantee.
“We are delighted that the Zimbabwe Football Association would consider the BFA as a partner and our country as worthy co-hosts.
“Our federation has been exploring the possibility of a bid to co-host the Afcon 2017 finals since the call for applications was made by the Caf general secretary, and we, too, were considering an invitation to Zimbabwe.
“We must, of course, obtain full government backing and we are in the process of seeking undertakings and guarantees from the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture.
“I noted from our conversation earlier that you already have the backing and support of your respective government.
“Please accept this letter as the BFA’s commitment to jointly hosting the finals with you. I will revert as soon as I have a response from the ministry,” wrote Masters to Zifa.
Sports Minister Andrew Langa told a Press conference on Thursday: “Zimbabwe would have preferred to go it alone but we find ourselves hamstrung by Caf’s Article 32 of the statutes governing the application which requires that:
Any member association proposing its country for the organisation of the Afcon must have organised the final tournament of at least one of the following competitions:
- The 2000 African Nations Championships
- The Under-20 African Championships
- The Under -17 African Championships
- The African Women Football Championships
- The Under-23 African Championships
Zimbabwe has previously submitted bids without success, for the following Continental and other championships:
- The African Cup of Nations — which was awarded at the eleventh hour to Ghana and Nigeria
- The 2010 African Cup of Nations- which was won by Angola.
- The 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup which was won by Canada.
“Zimbabwe’s bids were seriously weakened as we did not have the required letters of guarantee from the Head of State.”
Ghana have said they are confident of getting the rights, having previously been given the finals in 2000, alongside Nigeria when the finals were taken from Zimbabwe, and also in 2008.
The West African nation’s Sports minister Mahama Ayariga yesterday led a delegation to Cairo to present their bid.
Speaking to Ghanasoccernet.com on Thursday, Ayariga said Ghana had so many advantages over the other countries in the race and more experience in hosting the Afcon. He said Ghana was a football-loving nation, had the safest environment and stood a better stead in terms of transport connection to every part of Africa because of its central location.
“So we have so many advantages high and above our competitors,” he said.
“We are very confident that, in spite of Algeria and others showing interest, Ghana stands tall above all the other countries that are bidding to host this Afcon 2017,” Ayariga said.
Ghana has appointed an 11-member committee to work towards securing the right to host the competition while six former Black Stars players and a former world boxing champion have been appointed to serve as ambassadors during the bidding process.