The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) will not take place in January 2021 as scheduled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic but will instead take place in January 2022.
The women’s version of the tournament has also been cancelled as a result.
The coronavirus pandemic had stalled all football competitions across most of the continent since March, and left little time to complete the qualification competitions.
Also, the African Nations Championship (Chan), which should have been played in April 2020, will now take place in January 2021.
Cameroon is the host country to stage both competitions.
The AFCON was moved to odd-numbered years in 2013. That year’s tournament coming only a year after the previous one.
The decision was made to avoid the competition holding the same year as the World Cup or European tournaments years as it risked disadvantaging African teams at the World Cup by giving them such an extended season of competition.
Traditionally, it was held in January. However, the most recent Africa Cup of Nations, in 2019, was moved to the summer in an effort to avoid clashing with the major European league competitions.
This was meant to be the case for the Cameroon tournament as well, but that was then changed back to January owing to climate conditions in the country and a potential clash with the Club World Cup.
The move means that Premier League champions Liverpool will defend their title next season without losing their key strike force of Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah to international duty.
The women’s Africa Cup of Nations cancellation comes as little surprise given the tournament had no host, while not one qualifier had been played.
There was a boost for the women’s game however with the launch of a new Women’s Champions League for Africa in 2021.