By Deng Eric, Friday July 21
Cameroon Journal, Yaoundé – The Executive Committee of the African Football Governing body CAF, meeting in Rabat Morocco, Thursday July 20 voted to increase the number of competing teams at the African Nations’ cup to twenty four (24) beginning from the 2019 edition to be hosted by Cameroon in June and July.
Media reports in the country are prognosticating that Cameroon may lose its hosting rights for the 2019 AFCON due to inadequate infrastructure and logistics that accompany it. However, Cameroon’s Sports Minister Ismael Bidoung Mpatt in a press conference in Yaoundé on July 17 said the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will go ahead in the country despite the pace of preparations.
“Despite security concerns, social and economic crises, the government and President Paul Biya are totally engaged to do everything for the Nations Cup to go ahead” said Bidoung Mpatt.
Bidoung disclosed that group games will take place in five cities, with Limbe added to the four venues mentioned in Cameroon’s original bid: Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua and the capital Yaounde. But with CAF’s decision Thursday moving the competing teams to 24, Cameroon needs one more stadium to complete six for the tournament and more stadia to be used as training grounds.
The Minister, announcing a CAF inspection team in Yaounde in the weeks ahead, also revealed that of the 32 stadia expected from Cameroon, the 11 used during the 2016 Women AFCON are ready, available and operational. He went ahead
to state that of the 21 left, 14 are under rehabilitation and seven are to be constructed; among them the 50,000 sitter capacity stadium in Japoma, Douala and the 60 sitter Paul Biya stadium in Olemebe, outskirts of Yaounde.
While more focus is on the readiness of stadia for the competition, the country also falls short of a good road network that will ease circulation during the tournament and more still standard hotels that will host visitors.
Meantime, in the wake of reports suggesting CAF could disqualify Cameroon, Algeria and Morocco, two Arab countries have been expressing their readiness to host the tournament.