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Magogo, Watson in Morocco to discuss radical Nations Cup changes

FILE PHOTO: Uganda’s Magogo with Infantino at a Doha meeting earlier this year. PHOTO FUFA MEDIA

CAF ‘think tank’ to mull Nations Cup changes

Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP |  New-look Africa Cup of Nations and CAF Champions League competitions could emerge this week from discussions in Morocco that will include FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

A two-day CAF symposium begins Tuesday in Rabat and officials, coaches and former stars have been tasked with plotting the future of the popular sport in the continent.

On Friday, a CAF executive committee meeting will precede an extraordinary general assembly involving the 55 member associations, where changes could be adopted.

Former stars invited include Joseph-Antoine Bell of Cameroon, Hossam Hassan of Egypt, Rabah Madjer of Algeria, Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha of Nigeria and Badou Zaki of Morocco.

Leading national coaches Florent Ibenge of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Herve Renard of Morocco and Claude le Roy of Togo are also expected to attend.

Each of the 55 Member Associations affiliated to CAF is expected to be represented at the two-day event by its president, General Secretary and National Coach.

Uganda is represented by FUFA boss Moses Magogo, who is also on the CAF executive, FUFA  vice-presidents Justus Mugisha and Darius Mugoye and FUFA CEO Edgar Watson.  Coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic stayed in Kampala as he has a CHAN game this weekend against South Sudan.

When Malagasy Ahmad Ahmad scored a shock CAF presidential triumph over long-serving Cameroonian Issa Hayatou last March, he vowed to thoroughly review African football.

The Morocco gathering is the fulfilment of that promise with the timing, frequency and number of qualifiers in the Cup of Nations likely to be among the hottest topics.

Europe frustrated with CAF

Hosting the biennial tournament in January and February has long been a source of frustration for European clubs, especially in England and France, where many Africans play.

Hayatou consistently rejected suggestions of a move to June, saying the weather then was too hot in northern Africa, too wet in the west and centre and too cold in the south.

But his view was as much about not bowing to pressure from Europe as climatic conditions because African national teams and clubs play regularly during June without adverse effects.

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Ahmad appears more of a “team player” than his my-way-or-the-highway predecessor, and what happened to eventual champions Cameroon before the 2017 Nations Cup has swayed his mind toward change.

Liverpool defender Joel Matip was among six “Indomitable Lions” who refused to be considered, saying their club careers were more important than national duty.

If European clubs had their way, the Cup of Nations would be held in mid-year only every four years. They may well get their wish on timing, but not on frequency.

The Cup of Nations is much more than a football tournament with new stadia, roads and other infrastructure among the benefits to the host nation, so the two-year cycle is set to stay.

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