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AFCON returns to January-February slot for Cameroon 2021

Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez (C) and team-mates celebrate winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo this month

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, Jan 15 – The Africa Cup of Nations will revert to its former time slot of January and February for the next edition in 2021, hosts Cameroon said on Wednesday.

The tournament’s organising committee, as well as the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot), revealed that the tournament will be played from January 9 to February 6, 2021.

A statement published on the Confederation of African Football’s website said organisers had asked for the dates to be changed because of “the unfavourable weather conditions during the period initially scheduled”.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s first 24-team edition in Egypt, in large part to avoid clashing with the European club season.

However, the competition, won by Algeria, was played in the searing heat of the north African summer. Meanwhile, the same period coincides with the rainy season in Cameroon.

Organisers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with meteorological experts, as well as player and coach representatives.

The Central African country was initially scheduled to be the venue for the 2019 Cup of Nations but the Confederation of African Football stripped it of its hosting rights in late 2018 because of delays in its preparations.

Cameroon, which has been plagued by violence in its troubled anglophone region and is also fighting the Islamist insurgency of the Boko Haram group in the north of the country, had initially been awarded the tournament before its expansion from 16 to 24 teams.

The date change is also convenient for FIFA, given that world football’s governing body will stage the first 24-team Club World Cup in China in June and July of 2021.

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