The 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (2023 AFCON) will take place in Côte d’Ivoire according to a release from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Unlike the 33rd edition of the tournament which started on January 9, 2022, in Cameroon, the next edition will commence on June 23 and end on July 23, 2023.
Recall that the 33rd edition of AFCON was supposed to take place in 2021 but the tournament had to be postponed to January 2022 due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
Before the tournament was postponed, some football stakeholders urged CAF to cancel the edition instead of holding it in a FIFA World Cup year. But CAF decided to go ahead with it.
When it was announced that the tournament would hold in January 2022, the criticism was that it would force European-based African players to miss games at club level since the competition is being held amid club football season. But such criticism was not enough to stop the tournament from going ahead as planned.
Hence, some European clubs tried to discredit the tournament by using different tactics to prevent some of their African players from participating in it. However, most of the clubs were left with no choice but to release their African players for the tournament to avoid FIFA’s sanctions.
To prevent such scenarios from happening, the 2023 AFCON has been planned in such a way that it would not clash with any major football competition. It will start when all major leagues across the world are on break.
Hence, the 2023 AFCON which will commence in the next 18 months is expected to be free from the controversy of clubs not being willing to release their players for the tournament.
What we know about the 2023 AFCON
The Deputy General Secretary (DGS) in charge of Football and Development in CAF, Anthony Baffoe has confirmed that Côte d’Ivoire is prepared to host the tournament.
In a press conference recently, the football administrator confirmed that the CAF inspection team was happy with the preparation of Ivory Coast so far.
“In the capital, we visited all the stadiums and hotels, and we also held a feedback meeting with the LOC (Local Organizing Committee)”, he said. “We also met the Minister of Sports. This is how the inspection visit went. There are details to be perfected in various stages, but my message is clear: We are happy with what we saw. Meeting deadlines will also be important.”
The venues for the 2023 AFCON in Côte d’Ivoire are the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, the Ebimpé Olympic Stadium, the Stade San Pedro, and the Peace Stadium.
The preliminary and qualifiers round for the next AFCON
A statement from the African football governing body, CAF, has confirmed that the draws for the 2023 AFCON preliminary round will be announced on January 21, 2022, in Douala, Cameroon.
After the preliminary round which will involve only the lower ranked teams, 48 teams will participate in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers group stage which will produce 24 teams that will participate in the tournament proper in June 2023.
“The preliminary round will be played by a knock-out system: home and away matches and will include the lower-ranked teams per the FIFA rankings”, CAF said.
“The teams qualified from this round will reach the group stage composed of 48 teams.”