Changing timing of Afcon on the cards as CAF officials meet in Morocco

18 July 2017 - 11:09 By Mark Gleeson
Ahmad Ahmad President of the African Confederation of Football CAF, leaves a meeting of the FIFA council in Manama on May 9, 2017.
Ahmad Ahmad President of the African Confederation of Football CAF, leaves a meeting of the FIFA council in Manama on May 9, 2017.

Former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey‚ ex-Premier Soccer League coach Serame Letsoaka and Platinum Stars general manager Senzo Mazingiza are among the high-profile South African football personalities participating on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Confederation of African Football’s symposium in Morocco‚ which could herald the start of drastic changes to the game on the continent.

A South African Football Association delegation‚ headed by president Danny Jordaan is also in Rabat for the two-day event‚ which kicks off on Tuesday with intense discussions and workshops on various aspects of the African football.

It could prove a watershed 48 hours if the participants at the end resolve to change several of the more contentious issues like the timing of the both the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and the annual club competitions.

Moving the Nations Cup finals to a date in June where it will no longer clash with the European club season is one recommendation that could be passed‚ as well as a possible expansion of the tournament to 24 teams.

This is in the wake of the successful increase in the number of teams participating in the European Championship in France last year where minnows like Iceland and Wales caused major upsets and brought an exciting edge to the event.

There is also talk of changing the next Nations Cup hosts with Morocco‚ who have been making a major power play in African football in recent months with donations to other African associations‚ set to take over the 2019 finals from Cameroon‚ although that is not an item on the agenda but rather a heavy undertone ahead of the start of deliberations.

The frequency of the Nations Cup will be discussed too but holding it every two years rather than every four years means more money for African football and more competitive games for the continent’s national teams.

Changing the dates of the club competition games is also being proposed which will come as music to the ears of Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane and others.

CAF are also recognizing that playing group matches of the Champions League in May‚ June and July – where the continent’s top leagues are supposed to be off on holiday – badly impacts on clubs from top leagues‚ including that of South Africa.

They will propose changing the dates of the Champions League and Confederation Cup so that it begins in September and ends in May‚ like the similar competitions in Europe.

Tovey will be in a workshop with other top former African stars like Samuel Eto’o and Jay-Jay Okocha about a legacy for players and how to help young African footballers better prepare for life after their playing days are finished.

- TimesLIVE