The upcoming 2023 African Cup of Nations or widely known as AFCON is set to be postponed till the following year because of weather issue.
CAF has reportedly announced the delay of AFCON 2023 to January-February 2024. The flagship continental competition is bound to be staged in Ivory Coast. However, due to the rainy season there leading to heavy rainfall or even flood in the hosting nation, just like what happened in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, last month, African football governing body has to switch the schedule to anticipate the circumstance. Its president, Patrice Motsepe, released the official statement recently regarding such sudden move.
"We took a lot of advice and we decided we cannot take a risk. We don’t want to run the risk of that our top competition is going to be washed out. January is not the ideal time because of the European clubs, but it is the only choice we have.”
This switch is likely to raise another dispute with European clubs which have been relying on plenty of African stars. It is no surprise that a number of them have objected releasing their key figures for the mid season tournament. January and February has been considered the crucial period in European competitions schedule.
AFCON 2023 had been originally planned to be held in June-July to avoid such clash with European sides. It was initially hosted by Guinea. Yet, due to the failure of Cameroon, supposedly hosting 2019 edition, to complete the infrastructure renovation and terrorism issue, they were suspended by CAF and losing their hosting right until it was reinstated for 2021 edition. Ivory Coast was the actual host for that year. Consequently, they will be getting their chance in the upcoming edition.
Ivory Coast will be staging their second AFCON in 2024 after the first one in 1984. Unfortunately, they failed to advance to the knockout round at that time. Ivorian finally had their way to lift the trophy for the first time in 1992 edition by beating Ghana on penalties after a goalless draw. Surprisingly, they won their second title in 2015 after defeating the same opposition in the same way, on a shootout, having mustered another 0-0 tie during the normal and extra time. It will be quite a challenge for Winfred Zaha and Co to rekindle their glory in 2024 as they do not have the strong team as they used to when Didier Drogba led the team to qualify in world cup finals in three consecutive editions from 2006 to 2014. Ivory Coast failed to seal the ticket to Qatar since they did not succeed to snatch the playoff berth back in November 2021.
The upcoming tournament will be contested in six venues spreading in five cities, Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, Yamoussoukro and San Pedro. The stadiums to be used are Stade de Yamoussoukro, Stade de San Pedro, Stade de Korhogo, Stade Bouake, plus two venues in the capital, Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny and Stade National de la Cote d’Ivoire. The latter is set to be hold the final.