Cameroon will learn on September 23 whether it can go ahead and stage the first expanded African Nations Cup finals in 2019 or whether it will have to step down through lack of facilities.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has called a meeting of its executive committee in Accra where officials will be presented with the report of next week’s inspection visit to Cameroon by a panel of independent experts.
Cameroon officials are dismayed at recent comments by CAF president Ahmad Ahmad which appeared to question the country’s ability to host a 24-team finals even before the inspection team has set foot in the country.
This is perceived by some as a deliberate vendetta against Ahmad’s long-serving Cameroonian predecessor Issa Hayatou,
Under revised rules, the host nation for the Continent’s flagship event will have to provide a minimum of six stadiums: two of 15,000 seats, two of 20,000 and two of 40,000 seats for the opening and closing ceremonies.
If Cameroon’s candidacy is ruled out, a new bid process would probably be launched in the autumn with Algeria, Morocco and Ivory Coast potential interested parties.
CAF has faced several precedents of host nations being switched late on. The latest example was in 2015 when Morocco pulled out because of fears over the Ebola virus – the country was banned for its stance – and was replaced by Equatorial Guinea.
Two years earlier, South Africa supplanted Libya which was embroiled in civil war.
With Morocco having forged strong links with Ahmad and having hosted a number of CAF meetings and Ahmad visits, they are the strong favourites to pick up 2019 finals if (or seemingly more likely when) it is stripped from Cameroon.