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Morocco Confident of 2025 AFCON Hosting

Moroccan officials remain confident the North African country can launch a strong bid to replace Guinea as hosts of the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Morocco, who last hosted the tournament in 1988, were due to stage it again in 2015 but withdrew because of fears over an Ebola outbreak.

But having successfully hosted both the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and the Club World Cup in the past 12 months, the Atlas Lions believe they can see off neighbours and rivals Algeria in the bidding process.

“Morocco is ready,” top Moroccan official Hassan Kharbouch told BBC Sport Africa.

“We just organised a successful Club World Cup after our previous successes of hosting this same tournament in 2013 and 2014.”

Kharbouch is director of the Mohammed VI Football Complex, a project launched over a decade ago that has been praised for its role in helping the men’s national team become the first from Africa to reach a World Cup semi-final at last year’s tournament in Qatar.

“We’ve also staged the Under-17 and Under-23 Nations Cups and as hosts we delivered record African attendances for the Women’s Cup of Nations in Rabat and Casablanca in 2022,” Kharbouch continued.

“We have all the facilities and logistics to organise the African Cup of Nations, not only in Rabat and Casablanca but also in Tangier, Oujda, Fez, Marrakech and Agadir, each venue boasting of a number of training sites.”

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe confirmed last month that Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Zambia and a joint Benin-Nigeria bid are in the running to replace Guinea as hosts of the 2025 event.

The West African nation were stripped of the 24-team event in October because of a lack of suitably advancing infrastructure and facilities.

Motsepe said the successful replacement would offer the best “transport, logistics, hotels and beautiful stadiums”.

“Each region will have a chance to organise a Cup of Nations; we cannot assign the organisation of the tournament successively to the same region,” said Motsepe.

This would seem to count against Benin and Nigeria, because another West African nation, Ivory Coast, will host in 2023.

Zambia have never hosted the tournament, while 1996 and 2013 host South Africa’s economy is struggling.

Morocco were the first African country to qualify for a World Cup in 1970, the first to reach the last 16 in 1986 and the continent’s first semi-finalist in 2022.

The Atlas Lions won their only Africa Cup of Nations in 1976, beating Guinea in the final, but lost the 2004 final to host nation Tunisia.

The first African referee to take charge of a World Cup final – when France beat Brazil in 1998 – was Moroccan Said Belqola.

Source: thisdaylive.com