The next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations has been postponed by 12 months, the Confederation of African Football confirmed in their Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday.
The 33rd edition of the biennial tournament was due to begin in Cameroon on January 9 2021, but has now been pushed back to January 2022 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic across the continent.
It was gathered that Caf’s concerns about the ability to fit in the outstanding qualifiers before the intended start date of January 2021 are behind the decision to postpone, although African football’s governing body have not announced whether the 34th edition of the tournament—scheduled for Ivory Coast in 2023—will also be postponed.
Algeria are the reigning African champions, having defeated Senegal 1-0 in the 2019 final in Cairo.
The tournament was long held during January and February, but moved to a June-July scheduling ahead of the 2019 event, with newly elected president Ahmad Ahmad keen to avoid the club-vs-country disputes that often overshadowed a tournament being played during the European winter.
However, the 2021 tournament’s dates have already been moved once, with the original June-July 2021 dates brought forward to January due to the unfavourable climate in Cameroon during the summer months.
Caf also confirmed that the 2020 African Nations Championship—the biennial tournament for home-based players—will be played next year, having originally been scheduled for April 2020.
The Chan—which was also due to be held in Cameroon—had been indefinitely postponed due to the onset of Covid-19.
Caf’s decision comes after Uefa pushed the 2020 European Championships back by 12 months, while the 2020 Copa America has also been shunted back to a 2021 start date.
Also announced during the meeting, Caf have revealed that the semi-finals of their two continental club competitions—the Champions League and Confederation Cup—will be one-legged affairs moving forward, rather than the home-and-away ties that have been seen previously.
For women’s football across the continent, the 2020 African Women’s Cup of Nations has been cancelled, while Caf have announced the inauguration of a new women’s Champions League, which will begin in 2021.