AFCON 2027: Why Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania must back their words with action

CAF President Patrice Motsepe confirming East Africa will host AFCON in 2027 | CAF Image

AFCON 2027: Why Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania must back their words with action

Joel Omotto 18:00 - 31.10.2023

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania won the hosting rights for the 2027 AFCON but winning bids of the last six tournaments suggest it is not given unless they put their houses in order in time

East Africa is laying the ground work for the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations after securing the hosting rights in September amid competition from Botswana, Senegal, Egypt and Algeria.

The EAC Pamoja Bid of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania trumped their rivals after presenting their plan before intense lobbying followed.

That means the region will host the tournament for the first time since Sudan hosted the inaugural edition in 1957. With that, the three countries will be required to start early preparations, especially on infrastructure with stadia their biggest headache.

Kenya plans to refurbish Kasarani, Nyayo and Kipchoge Keino stadiums and has already announced plans to construct a new 60,000-seater facility before the tournament.

Uganda, meanwhile, also has plans for another facility besides the Mandela (Namboole) Stadium which is under renovation while Tanzania, who have one international stadium, will have to improve some existing facilities.

While Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba has insisted that the tournament will go nowhere, recent history suggests that he will have to back his words with action since the last six tournaments have not been hosted by the countries that initially won the bid.

“Many of you believed we could not win the bid to host AFCON 2027 but because of the team we put together, the lobbying we had done, the backroom diplomatic blitz that we had undertaken and the support of Presidents William Ruto, Yoweri Museveni and Samia Suluhu, I was so sure after I made the presentation to CAF, I went to sleep because I was so confident,” Namwamba said last weekend.

“There were so any doubting Thomas’s in Nairobi, there were even those who did not want us to get this bid, they were praying.

“Now they are praying that like in 1996 when we got it and it was taken away, like in 2018 when we got CHAN and it was taken away, they are now praying that it is taken away, I am sorry to disappoint you, this is going nowhere.”

It is a great assurance but Namwamba and his East Africa colleagues will have to start their preparations early to avoid suffering the fate of Libya, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Guinea who were to host previous tournaments and failed or did it late due to a number of reasons.

Libya were supposed to host the 2013 AFCON but due to civil war, the tournament was taken up by South Africa while the 2015 tournament was supposed to be held in Morocco.

However, the North African country later refused to play host due to fears over the Ebola virus with Equatorial Guinea stepping in.

In 2017, South Africa, who were to host the tournament, had made arrangements with Libya to swap places but the North Africans were still not ready and the tournament was taken over by Gabon.

Egypt hosted the 2019 edition but they were not the country that won the hosting rights for the tournament. CAF had awarded Cameroon the bid but they were not ready and Egypt stepped in.

Cameroon would, therefore agree to swap places with Ivory Coast for the 2021 edition with the latter taking the 2023 tournament which will be played next year.

The 2023 tournament had been awarded to Guinea but their project stalled, necessitating a change and Morocco will now play host.

The chronology of events suggests it is not given that East Africa will host the tournament unless they begin early preparations and have everything in place in time.

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