The 2020 African Nations Championship and the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations have both been postponed by a year CAF has announced.
The measures are among a raft of decisions affecting CAF competitions taken at a meeting of the Executive Committee of Africa’s football governing body on Tuesday.
CAF also announced the cancellation of the 2020 Africa Women’s Nations Cup and the staging of one-legged semifinals and finals for the Champions League and Confederation Cup.
A new competition for women the Women’s Champions League will be launched in 2021 CAF announced.
The body met via teleconference to consider recommendations from various CAF standing committees for the restart of football activities on the continent.
Football across the continent has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic which has affected over 300,000 thousand people and killed over 8,000 people in 54 African countries.
The development led CAF to postpone the 2020 African Nations Championship in Cameroon indefinitely and suspend the Champions League and Confederation Cup as well as qualifiers for both the 2020 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and the 2021 Nations Cup.
The disruption to the African football calendar occasioned by the pandemic has now caused a domino effect that has affected all CAF national and inter-club competitions.
The CHAN tournament which was originally scheduled to hold between 4-25 April 2020 in Cameroon will now hold in January 2021.
The 2021 AFCON scheduled for January/February in Cameroon has also been postponed for a year to January 2022.
“Health is our number one priority. We must remain vigilant,” CAF president Ahmad Ahmad said in a news conference announcing the move.
Sticking to the original date for the 2021 AFCON was always going to be problematic with four rounds of qualifiers left and the cancellation of the September international window.
The tournament itself had been plagued by uncertainty over its date prior to the pandemic with CAF reversing its original decision to hold the competition in the summer due to local climatic conditions.
Last year’s edition in Egypt was the first to be staged in the new June/July date, but CAF moved the 2021 tournament back to its original January/February date period due to Cameroon’s heavy raining season in the summer.
These latest moves will have a significant impact on Africa’s football calendar and could lead to a jampacked list of fixtures with the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar still to be played.
“I think this is a wise decision because time is very short now and they could not postpone to the summer,” Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr told BBC Sport Africa.
“I can understand this decision – we have more time now to prepare our young boys. It is not all bad.
“There is a positive side in all this and we have time for some friendlies and also for the beginning of the World Cup qualifiers – normally we will begin in November with this, and I think we can follow the plan and still have time to the Afcon qualifiers starting in October, so it is a wise decision and it will be a big year in 2022.”
No date has been announced for the AWCON although it comes as no surprise that the tournament was cancelled giving that no hosts had been announced for the event which was supposed to hold at the end of the year.
The disappointment over the cancellation of the only continental competition for senior women footballers will be offset by the announcement of the launch of the Women’s Champions League which follows through on CAF’s commitment to boost the profile and commercial potential of women’s football on the continent.
The CAF Champions League which was suspended in the semifinal stage will resume with a one-legged semifinal to be held in Cameroon.
The final will also be held in the same country at the 50,000 capacity Japoma Stadium in Douala and will be first to the staged in a neutral venue after CAF tweaked its premiere inter-club competition to discard two-legged finals.
Previously, both finalists played one tie each at home with the title going to the winners on aggregate or away goals or penalties in the event of a draw.
This season’s final could be an all Egyptian or an all Moroccan affair after two clubs from both countries made the last four.
Egyptian eight-time record winners Al Ahly will play Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca while Wydad’s neighbours Raja Casablanca will Ahly’s Egyptian rivals Zamalek in the last four.
The Confederation Cup will also resume with one-legged semifinals which will be played at a yet to be announced venue in Morocco. The final will also be played in the North African country.
Egyptian club Pyramids FC take on Horoya of Guinea while RS Berkane and Hassannia Agadir face off in an all Moroccan affair.