Cameroon Gears Up for 2020 African Nations Championship
The sixth edition of the African Nations Championship (also known as CHAN) is scheduled to take place in the West African nation of Cameroon between April 4th and 25th, 2020. The championship was designed exclusively for players who feature in their domestic leagues. It takes place every other year and is organized by CAF (Confederation of African Football) – the administrative and controlling body for African association football.
CHAN 2020 matches will be held in the cities of Yaounde, Douala, Garoua, and Limbe, in stadiums that have a capacity to hold anything between 20,000 (Limbe Stadium) to 50,000 (Japoma Stadium in Douala) spectators.
CAF announced that the draw for this year’s championship will be held on Monday, February 17th.
CHAN 2020 Qualifying Teams
The qualified teams are as follows:
• Host: Cameroon – qualified automatically as hosts
• Central Zone: Congo, DR Congo
• Central-East Zone: Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania
• North Zone: Morocco, Libya
• Southern Zone: Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe
• West ‘A’ Zone: Guinea Mali
• West ‘B’ Zone: Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo
How the Teams Qualified
47 out of 54 CAF member national teams entered the CHAN 2020 qualifying rounds. The teams were split into zones. Qualifying rounds were held in Cairo on January 30th, 2019. In July 2019, a redraw took place after Ethiopia, which was the original host, and Djibouti, were included in the mix.
Originally, Ethiopia was due to host CHAN 2020, although it withdrew after CAF changed its calendar and moved this edition from 2018 to 2020. It was at that point that Cameroon stepped in to host the championship.
Libya Replaces Tunisia
Although Tunisia qualified for the tournament, the North African country decided to withdraw its team in January 2020. Tunisia said that its clubs were reluctant to release players for a tournament that falls in the middle of the league. Since the regulation of the competition dictates that “if a team withdraws after its qualification in the Final Tournament, but before its actual start, it shall be replaced by the team classified next in the group of the team in question”, on the 20th of January, 2020 Libya (which had been eliminated in the qualifying round by Tunisia) was invited to take part in its place and accepted the invitation. However, because of their late withdrawal, Tunisia was fined $50,000 and banned from taking part in the next edition of the African Nations Championship which will be taking place in 2022.
South Africa Beaten by Lesotho
South Africa was forced to bow out of qualifying for CHAN 2020 after it suffered a shock 3-0 loss to Lesotho in a home game in August last year. The main reason for this defeat is that clubs refused to release players for the match which clashed with the opening day of South Africa’s Premier Soccer League. As such, the South African side was made up of a young, makeshift side.
Busy Time for Cameroon
In addition to hosting CHAN 2020, Cameroon will also be hosting the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). This biennial international football championship is also organized by CAF.
AFCON 2021 was originally scheduled to be held in June and July next year but CAF announced earlier this month that the dates would be shifted to January 9th – February 6th, 2021. CAF cited unfavorable climatic conditions as its reason to move the dates.
In 2014, CAF announced that Cameroon would be hosting AFCON in 2019. However, Cameroon was stripped of this honor due to delays in the construction of sports infrastructure. Instead, it accepted the invitation to host the event in 2021 – next year.
A total of 24 teams are expected to compete in the final AFCON 2021. Cameroon, as host, has received an automatic qualification spot, while the other teams will fight for spots through a qualification tournament. Matches will take place in six venues across five cities – Yaounde, Douala, Garoua, Limbe and Bafoussam.