Harare – Incoming Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe is this weekend expected to hold his inaugural executive meeting, with the fate of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers likely to be high on the agenda.
The South African business mogul was this Friday scheduled to go blow for blow in the race to hold the most influential position in African soccer against Côte d’Ivoire’s Jacques Anouma, Mauritania’s Ahmed Yahya and Senegal’s Augustin Senghor.
However, backroom dealing has seen Senghor and Yahya accept vice-president posts, while Anouma will be an advsor, paving way for Motsepe’s coronation.
With the electioneering out of the way, the CAF leadership has to determine whether or not the final two AFCON 2022 qualification matches will be played between March 24 and 30 this year.
Already, CAF has shelved the Under-17 AFCON following an earlier decision by world soccer governing body FIFA to cancel the 2021 U17 and U20 World Cup tournaments.
The AFCON U-17 was scheduled for March 13-21 in Morocco.
CAF communications director Alexandre Siewe said, “The CAF Emergency Committee met on Monday, March 8, 2021 in Rabat, Morocco to decide on the holding of the 2021 U17 Total Africa Cup of Nations.
“The committee was made aware of the constraints faced by some of the participating member associations as well as the host country including the fact that the coronavirus pandemic continues to present significant challenges for the organisation of international sporting events.
“Taking into account the cancellation by FIFA of the Under-17 World Cup for which the U-17 CAN was no longer qualifying, the Committee further noted the resurgence of the Covid19 pandemic, an increased restriction on international travel and uncertainty about the evolution of the situation.
“For all these reasons, the committee decided to cancel the 2021 edition of the Total U17 Africa Cup of Nations.”
The headache for CAF stems from the fact that FIFA has told clubs that they are under no obligation to release players for the AFCON qualifiers due to the logistical challenges and quarantine rules associated with travel in the era of COVID-19.
South America has already secured approval to its 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which were scheduled for the same window as the AFCON qualifiers.