ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa was in Cairo, Egypt, yesterday for a maiden and yet crucial meeting of the African Cup of Nations organising committee that has stepped up its act ahead of the 2019 tournament scheduled for Cameroon. Chiyangwa, who is also the COSAFA president, is one of the two vice presidents of the influential committee headed by Nigeria's Amaju Pinnick. The ZIFA boss confirmed the committee has resolved to engage a group of professional consultants, who will tour Cameroon to assess the West African country's capacity to stage the next Nations Cup jamboree. Should they pass the test, Cameroon will become the first host of an expanded continental football showcase, which will now have 24 countries participating.
Previously, the Nations Cup had been a 16 team-tournament for which the hosts, group winners and best runners-up from the qualification process would qualify. But in line with the changes that have been introduced by the new CAF leadership under Malagasy -- Ahmad -- the tournament has since been expanded.
Chiyangwa is one of the two deputies to Pinnick, together with South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan. Ahmad chaired the maiden meeting of the committee, which also includes such continental football legends like former goalkeeper Joseph Antoine Bell of Cameroon and set the tone of their deliberations and their task in the run up to the 2019 Nations Cup. CAF last night issued a statement indicating that five items had been on the agenda of the indaba.
"Members of the Total Africa Cup of Nations Organising Committee met on Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at the CAF headquarters in Cairo. Five items were on the agenda of this very first meeting, after the appointment of the members of this committee by the executive committee.
"CAF President Ahmad was keen to personally preside over this first meeting in order to situate the strategic and vital nature of this committee, in charge of the management of the major competition of CAF and which generates the most important revenues for the Confederation," CAF said. The continental body also allayed fears that Cameroon could fall in the same scenario that befell Kenya, who were striped of the rights to host the 2018 CHAN tournament, with the West Africa country set to get CAF's assistance in meeting the requirements to stage a 24-team tourney.
"Our role is to best accompany Cameroon, which organises the Total AFCON in 2019, in a new format, to properly fill in the list of requirements of the Host Agreement, which is not a static document and that you have the possibility to improve now that you have taken up your duties," Ahmad told members of the committee.
The committee also agreed to set up an ad-hoc bureau that will be tasked to:
- Draw up the terms of reference for the call for tenders for the selection of the cabinet
- Conduct the tender process and finalise it
- Define a timetable of activities
"A contract will be signed between CAF and the firm selected at the end of the call for tenders. A period will be communicated to the Cameroonian authorities for the first inspection visit. This ad hoc bureau will receive the inspection report, which will be shared and analysed by the committee as a whole at its next meeting. The committee will therefore make recommendations to the executive committee. The CAF president also instructed that the chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Total AFCON, Cameroon 2019, as well as another member of the LOC of his choice, be invited to each meeting of the committee as observers," CAF said.