/ 27 September 2011

Libya likely to lose 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

Libya are likely to be replaced as 2013 Africa Cup of Nations hosts this week with fighting still raging between pro and anti-Muammar Gaddafi forces around several cities.

Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa are prepared to take over the tournament with a decision expected mid-week after a two-day meeting of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee in Egypt.

While the Algerians and Nigerians want to replace the Libyans, 2017 Cup of Nations hosts South Africa have proposed a swap with the North African country staging the African football showcase in six years’ time.

However, a South African decision in August to publicly announce they had struck a deal with Libyan officials did not go down well at CAF headquarters in Cairo.

“We are disappointed that the South African Football Association (Safa) has chosen to make public these discussions and plans before the matter is discussed by the CAF executive committee,” said general secretary Hicham el-Amrani.

“It would have been correct to have waited until it is discussed and ratified. It is premature to make such an announcement and it has upset us that there has been this breach of protocol.

“Hosting rights to all CAF tournaments are duly awarded by the executive committee at sessions designated for such and not subject to barter by nations,” he stressed.

“The CAF executive committee will decide at its meeting at the end of September which country will host the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations should Libya be deemed unable to.”

SA’s ‘birthright’ perception
These comments came after Safa chief Kirsten Nematandani had warned officials not to come across as arrogant nor create a perception that “we have a birthright to host everything” after successfully staging the 2010 World Cup.

South Africa replaced Libya as hosts of the African youth championship last April, partly to give their team a second chance of qualifying for the Fifa world championship after a shock loss to Lesotho in the qualifiers.

But the move backfired as South Africa failed to make the semifinals, heavy rain meant many matches were staged on a barely playable Soweto pitch and the two-week tournament attracted small crowds and minimal media interest.

Nigeria claim they are the natural replacements having been chosen by the CAF executive committee five years ago as stand-by hosts should Angola (2010), Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (2012) or Libya drop out.

In a letter to CAF, Nigeria says “the reality of the situation on the ground in Libya means they cannot possibly play host to a football tournament of the magnitude and importance of the Africa Cup of Nations.

“We are aware of this fact, aware of the resolution of September 6 2006, and are prepared to exercise our rights as stand-by hosts for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Nigerian letter included criticism of Libyan football officials: “It is not in their hands to decide who to bequeath hosting rights of the Africa Cup of Nations.”

Algeria have kept a low profile since stating interest in staging the Cup of Nations a second time with football federation spokesperson Abdelkader Berdja telling reporters “it might help our bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup”. — AFP