The Moroccan capital Rabat will host next year’s highly-anticipated Confederation of African Football (Caf) presidential elections.
In a video press conference on Thursday, current president Ahmad once again refused to be drawn on whether he will run for a second term.
“I am finalising with my team,” said the Malagasy. “Such a position in society in a continent is not about personal ambition, it is a commitment that is sought after by different interest groups.”
A strong North African challenge was already expected prior to the announcement, which adds another twist to what are likely to be the hardest-fought elections in decades.
Candidates will be able to apply from 11 September to 12 November, with the elections themselves scheduled to take place on 12 March.
In a series of other moves, as Caf adjusts its calendar to cope with the ongoing challenges posed by coronavirus, it was announced that:
- The African Nations Championship (CHAN) will still be played in January 2021, with the dates confirmed as 16 January-7 February
- The semi-finals of this year’s Champions League and Confederation Cup have been moved back to the second half of October
- Senegal will host the 2020 Beach Soccer Nations Cup
- The 2022 CHAN will now be played in January 2023, with Algeria hosting
- The next Women’s Africa Cup of Nations will take place in July 2022
- 2021 Nations Cup and 2022 World Cup qualifiers will stay the same, set to resume in November 2020 and May 2021 respectively
The most pressing date for Caf had been the resumption of both its main club competitions, with both the Champions League and Confederation Cup having been slated for resumption on 22 and 25 September respectively.
However, the Champions League first legs between Morocco’s Raja Casablanca and Egypt’s Zamalek as well as Raja’s city rivals Wydad Casablanca against Cairo giants Al Ahly will now be played on 17-18 October, with the return legs a week later.
The final itself has been moved from 16 October to 6 November.
Meanwhile, the one-match Confederation Cup semi-finals – which had been due to start in 12 days – will now take place on 19 and 20 October.
Horoya meet Pyramids in one tie while Renaissance Berkane face Hassania Agadir in the other.
The Confederation Cup final, also in Rabat, has also been moved to 25 October, having earlier been set to take place on 27 September.
All the matches were ‘rescheduled following a request by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation to make way for easy travel of the participating clubs’ after recent moves in the North African nation to restrict air travel.
Inaugural Women’s Champions League
Firmer details of how Caf’s maiden Women’s Champions League, which is first scheduled to take place in 2021, were also revealed on Thursday.
The competition will feature eight teams, with each of Caf’s six regional zones providing a qualifier apiece.
The remaining two slots will be taken by the host nation and, for the first tournament only, a second team from the same region as the host.
In future tournaments, the eighth team will come from the zonal union of the defending champions.
In a bid to win the battle to ensure that its youth sides field players of the right age, Caf has adopted an extreme approach which it will hopes will address a long-standing problem.
In future, any team that is proven to have fielded an ineligible player determined by MRI scans will be disqualified from the tournament.
The next Under-17 Nations Cup, which will take also place in Morocco, has been rescheduled to take place between 13-31 March 2021.