Safa cites irregularities as Egypt hosts Afcon

General view of the FNB Stadium (Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix)

General view of the FNB Stadium (Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix)

‘We don’t have a fight with Egypt, we have a fight with the way the process has unfolded,’ said Safa CEO Russell Paul.

The South African Football Association (Safa) expressed disappointment yesterday at the manner in which Egypt was named as hosts of the Caf 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Confederation of African Football president Ahmed Ahmed announced in Dakar yesterday that Egypt had been chosen ahead of South Africa to host the continental showpiece in June. The two countries were the only ones to submit bids after Caf stripped Cameroon of the tournament in December.

It later emerged that the vote of the Caf executive committee had not even been close, with Egypt getting 16 votes and South Africa just one, with one abstention.

Safa CEO Russell Paul, however, expressed his dismay at how the decision was handled, with no inspection visit to South Africa and the decision moved forward by 24 hours at the last minute.

Egypt emerged as clear favourites to take the vote well before Ahmed’s announcement and Paul said: “When we saw all the media comments and things going through, there seemed to be a foregone conclusion around [the decision].

“Without being arrogant from a technical perspective, there is no other country on the continent better-suited [than South Africa] to host, that can boast the infrastructure, roads and stadiums we have. We don’t have a fight with Egypt, we have a fight with the way the process has unfolded.

“We wrote to Caf before the announcement to say there is a list of requirements for a bid, a process to be followed. There is supposed to be an inspection team, but they never arrived in the country. Secondly, they said the announcement would be on January 9 and suddenly it was moved to the 8th.

“We had prepared a delegation to go [to Dakar] tomorrow, only to find the Egyptians had been there a while, with government representatives, ready to make their presentation.

“We had discussed with people from government to go [to Dakar]. To show the difference between us and Egypt, we sent a state of readiness report to Caf. A bid says ‘we can do this and this’, [but] we are ready.”

Caf’s decision means that Bafana Bafana need to qualify for Egypt 2019, with Stuart Baxter’s side requiring at least a point from their final Group E qualifier against Libya in March, in a game to be played on neutral territory due to the civil war in Libya. If South Africa had been named as hosts, Bafana would have qualified automatically.

“We were always looking to qualify, and we will refocus our efforts on getting the Fifa Women’s World Cup [in 2023], which would be the first World Cup for women on African soil,” said Paul.

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