Rabat (AFP) – The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will expand from 16 to 24 teams and be staged in June and July, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Thursday.
The tournament has traditionally been held in January and February, with the timing of the tournament a source of frustration to European clubs forced to release players in the middle of the season.
The CAF executive committee confirmed the changes to the format following a two-day symposium in Rabat, although the tournament will continue to be held every two years.
However, the expansion of the competition could reduce the number of countries capable of staging the event, with 2019 hosts Cameroon already behind schedule and facing the prospect of having to pull out.
Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad scored a shock CAF presidential triumph over long-serving Cameroonian Issa Hayatou in March and vowed to thoroughly review African football.
Hayatou consistently rejected suggestions of a move to June, saying the weather then was too hot in northern Africa, too wet in the west and centre and too cold in the south.
But his view was as much about not bowing to pressure from Europe as climatic conditions because African national teams and clubs play regularly during June without adverse effects.
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