The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has confirmed that Equatorial Guinea will replace Morocco as 2015 Africa Cup of Nations hosts.
Caf scrambled for a new host for the biennial championship after rejecting requests for posponement by its original hosts, Morocco. The football governing body has insisted that the tournament will go as planned between January 17 and February 8.
A Caf statement read inter alia: “Following fraternal and fruitful discussions, the Head of State of Equatorial Guinea has agreed to host the tournament from January 17 to February 8, 2015.
“Therefore, the Executive Committee of CAF confirms that the Orange Africa Cup of Nations 2015 will be held in Equatorial Guinea on the dates agreed, and the national team of Equatorial Guinea is qualified for the final tournament as a representative of the country host.”
Morocco had argued against hosting the tournament on agreed dates because of fears over the Ebola outbreak elsewhere on the continent. They were subsequently disqualified from the tournament for failing to abide by Caf’s terms.
The Orange Africa Cup of Nations 2015 will be held in Equatorial Guinea. Tournament to run from Jan 17 to 8th Feb pic.twitter.com/ZMDX3phPtR
— CAF MEDIA (@CAF_Media) November 14, 2014
Equatorial Guinea, who have two available stadia, co-hosted the tournament with Gabon in 2012.
The 37,500 Estdaio de Bata, Bata, hosted Zambia’s triumph over Ghana in the semi-finals while the 15,250 Nuevo Estadio de Malabo in Malabo played host to the third-place match between Mali and the ‘Black Stars’, which the ‘Eagles’ won 2-0.
Caf has also confirmed that the cities of Mongomo and Ebebiyin join Bata and Malabo in hosting group phase matches.
The decision also serves as reprieve for the ‘National Thunder’ who were disqualified in July for fielding an ineligible player in a preliminary qualifier against Mauritania on May 17.
Afcon 2015 qualification matches continues across Africa this weekend with the aim of producing 15 teams for the finals, with Equatorial Guinea set to complete the field.
The final draw for the tournament takes place on Wednesday, December 3, in Malabo.