Yaoundé (National Times)-The withdrawal of the 2019 African Cup of Nations(AFCON) hosting rights from Cameroon took many Cameroonians by surprise.
The withdrawal came after the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had assured the people of Cameroon during his last visit that the country will host the continental football jamboree.
During the Visit, Ahmad Ahmad said CAF had no plan B and that Cameroon will host the 2019 AFCON tournament. With such promises and assurance from Ahmad Ahmad, Cameroonians were certain that the country will be the first to host the first edition of 24 teams.
However, the joy of the people of Cameroon was brought to a halt on November 30, 2018, when CAF stripped Cameroon of her hosting rights.
The decision shattered the plans of the Cameroon government that had borrowed huge sum of money to finance provide sports infrastructures.
In his traditional end of year speech, President Paul Biya admitted that due to information obtained elsewhere, CAF decided to shift the date of the competition forward.
Even though he did not give the specific timeframe, Biya reiterated that all projects earmarked for the 2019 AFCON must be realised.
“As you know, our country was supposed to host the great African football jamboree in 2019. Base on certain information, the African Football Confederation decided that the date should be shifted. All investment relating to the organisation of AFCON 2019 will be carried out. I will personally see into it that the construction of our roads, rails, hospitals and sport infrastructures for this major event,” President Biya elucidated.
It should be noted that President Paul Biya had submitted a letter to CAF Executive Committee accepting to host AFCON 2021 which was originally to be hosted by Ivory Coast. CAF Executive Committee has confirmed Cameroon as 2021 AFCON host, thus the decision by the Head of State to see into the completion of the AFCON projects is to avoid another rejection from CAF.