Rabat (AFP) – Morocco will not be a candidate to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after Cameroon was stripped of the tournament, the country’s sports minister Rachid Talbi Alami said on Wednesday, while Egypt expressed an interest in hosting the finals.
“Morocco does not intend to run for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and will not do so,” he told AFP.
Morocco and South Africa had been seen as the frontline contenders to host the competition, which is due to start on June 15.
Cameroon had originally beaten bids from Algeria and the Ivory Coast to win the right to host the tournament, but saw it taken away by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) last month due to delays in preparation.
Morocco, which lost out to a United States/Mexico/Canada bid to host the 2026 World Cup, has regularly been reported as a possible replacement.
But Egypt made a move to host the contintental showpiece for a fifth time, just hours after Alami’s comments.
“Egypt is able to organise the competition and we would be proud to do so,” said Egyptian sports minister Ashraf Sobhi.
“The Egyptian people are always ready for such things, we have infrastructure of the highest level.”
Congo Brazzaville has also emerged as a surprise candidate, while CAF has offered the 2021 finals to Cameroon despite having previously awarded the tournament to the Ivory Coast.
The 2019 Cup of Nations will be the first to feature 24 teams since CAF expanded the format from 16 countries.