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BFA joins AFCON dates debate

Publishing Date : 17 February, 2020

Author : MOSIMANEGAPE TSHOSWANE

Botswana Football Association (BFA) through its President Maclean Letshwiti is expected to stage a more spirited and emotive debate at the up- coming Confederation of African Football (CAF) congress to convince and assure other African states that the new dates for the Africa Cup of Nations are suitable and should not be changed again.  


The Association together with several other African football organizations have shown nervousness at the recent proposal made by FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, that CAF should once again consider moving the dates back to the previous June- July calendar.
“We are concerned but we will engage each other, we do not want this AFCON thing to die,” Letshwiti said.


Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Zambia and other states are expected to take a leading role and show beyond reasonable doubt that winter dates are the best and have so far changed the image of African game.  The same countries stood in one accord in 2018 when deliberating on the same issue that January-February dates have stolen the AFCON appeal and shine.


Their arguments saw the light of day when dates were moved to June- July. The past AFCON edition was held last year in Egypt but FIFA now wants CAF to scrap off these dates to avoid a clash with FIFA’s expanded Club World Cup, which will take place in China in June 2021. Letshwiti and other African football federation Presidents believe that the AFCON tournament is not given the seriousness it deserves in the entire world, hence its continuous decline in appeal.


 Many nations across the African continent, particularly those who were instrumental in the removal of long serving CAF President Issa Hayatou almost 3 years ago, believe it is the right time to stand in unity for the glory of the tournament.  It is their collective view that the tournament dates should remain as they are. When qualifying their points, BFA and other African states say these two months are perfect to hold a tourney because most of the league games of various countries are on season break. Besides, World cup football games together with European games are held on similar months.


Over the years, the world-wide appeal of the African game dwindled down drastically because of the timing of the tournament. European teams, more often than not, refuse to release players to participate because of their engagement of the season. But even if players are released by their European clubs and elsewhere, commitment has always been found wanting in the field of play- some fearing to plunge themselves into untimely injuries while others voicing concerns of carelessness by their home countries as far as incentives are concerned.


It has been witnessed, over the years how European clubs badly need some of Africa’s stars. Manchester City in 2012, when Zambia won the tournament, sent their private jet to fly back Yaya Toure and his brother Kole Toure (who played for Ivory Coast) to England, just a day after the tournament came to an end.  In the 2017 of the show piece, Liverpool applied the same episode on Sadio Mane of Senegal.

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