Monday, January 24, 2011

Morocco in last ditch effort to secure 2015 Africa Nations Cup

In four days time South Africa will attempt to derail Morocco for the third time in a decade. Next Friday, January 28, in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the hosts for the 2015 Africa Nations Cup (AFCON) will be decided. It's a two-horse race between South Africa and Morocco with the former in possession of the upper hand. Experience will hand the tournament to the south but in interests of fairness the continental championship should be played in the north.

South Africa's case to host AFCON writes itself: they have ten world-class stadiums that successfully hosted the world's biggest football tournament; they did so with almost no glitches and offered top-notch security and impressive facilities all round.

It is also a Mecca for sporting events, having also hosted a cricket and rugby World Cup, various other international tournaments and even AFCON in 1996. There's almost no argument that can be made against South Africa and it's not difficult to see why Morocco face an uphill battle in securing the bid, especially since they've been pipped at the post by South Africa before.

Morocco have long wanted to host a major tournament and have competed with South Africa on the biggest stage for that right, having bid for both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. At the turn of the millennium, the race for the 2006 World Cup was hotting up, particularly because there was expectation that an African country would finally be trusted to become FIFA-land for a month.

Morocco are putting forward a comprehensive package to support their bid and sports minister Moncef Belkhayat is confident that his country has done enough to secure hosting rights this time. "We have submitted a balanced file. A committee of CAF visited the Moroccan infrastructure and submitted a positive report."

The last time Morocco hosted the tournament was in 1988 and not only are they hungry to do so again, but they seem to have a proper plan in place. A neutral observer can only hope it comes off.

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