NAIROBI, Tiny Equatorial Guinea will host the next Africa Nations Cup in 2015, Africa’s soccer officials said on Friday.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said in a statement received in Nairobi that the West African country will take over the role from Morocco to stage the tournament, which starts on January 17 to February 8, 2015.
Equatorial Guinea, one of the smallest countries in the continent and speaking Spanish is rich with oil, but has not done much in building sports stadia.
The country hosted the 2012 finals with neighbors Gabon but will take on the 16-team tournament on their own. Equatorial Guinea has only two major stadiums in the capital Malabo and Bata. However, CAF will have to do with what it has, owing to the short notice.
CAF selected a replacement for Morocco after rejecting their request to delay the next year’s finals. Morocco were concerned over the spread of the outbreak of the Ebola virus.
CAF held their nerve and refused to allow Morocco to change the dates to 2016. Consequently the African football body expelled Morocco from the tournament, which brings together the continent’ s top 16 teams.
CAF, however, in their statement, did not confirm if Equatorial Guinea will replace Morocco in the 16-team competition.
The new hosts were disqualified in July for fielding an ineligible player in a preliminary qualifier against Mauritania on May 17.
However, owing to demand for fans in the stadium and support of the competition, CAF is likely to lift their ban and allow the host to take part in the competition.