Cairo — Egypt's preparations tohost the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), is said to be going on smoothly as Cairo International Stadium renovations will be completed by May, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Dr. Ashraf Sobhi has said.
He made the remarks Wednesday at his office in Cairo when he hosted Media attending the 53rd Union of African Journalists (UAJ) currently under way in Cairo, Egypt.
"We are assuring Africa that all is almost set here, meanwhile we are just refurbishing the main Cairo Stadium and we are certain that by mid May 2019 all works will be concluded on the site.
"The Stadium accommodates over 75, 000 people and we desire it to wear a new face with some modern facilities fixed to make everybody feel comfortable, including creating new streets in order to manage traffic jam during this momentous time," Sobhi pointed out.
Vice President of Cameroon Football Association, Joshua Osih Nabangi in a response to a questionnaire told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that the Indomitable Lions are well prepare to grind other teams.
"The technical staff are doing a very good job here we are going to Egypt for the love of the game and to win in style and prides as we did in Gabon last time.
"We are conquerors and champions although we know that it will not going to be easy but nothing good without sweat and most of the time we won the AFCON we were not considered favorites, this time we are ready no fears," he replied.
The Cameroon Football Vice President warned African nations against politicizing football saying if any politics creeps in the whole thing is messed up and becomes not interesting.
"Africans need to take football away from politics and understand that organization committees are technical bodies filled up with competence in the field rather than political affiliations," he added.
But in response to the concerns registered by Cameroon, the Egyptian Sports Minister said they have always drawn lines between politics and sports they would utilize the tournament as an interaction and unification tool for youth and other countries across Africa.
"We have deliberate programmes which we are sending our youth into different countries to learn from others how they are doing to promote sports which in turn make Africa a home for everyone and Egypt a second home for all African nationals," he added.
Sobhi explained that the youth should take part in the building of their countries by appointing them in positions and involving them in different sporting activities to allow them actively participate in developing nations.
"Plans are in the pipeline to employ over 15, 000 youth through sports and other several projects according to our budgets in order to move with them in all dimensions of development," he said.
FIFA Council and CAF Executive member, Walter Nyamilandu of Malawi said he was not ready to comment on the political interference of the tournament.
"I do not know anything about these claims, I need time," he stated
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon are the defending Champions and have the title for five times, Nigeria four times while the hosting country, the Pharaohs of Egypt have won most titles seven in total.
AFCON is expected to be played from June 21 to July 21, 2019 after dates of the competition were changed from traditionally January to June and that the possible hosts Cameroon were not ready to stage the tournament due to political situation and security reason.
The opening game, the hosts Egypt will face Zimbabwe from 10 pm at the 120,000 capacity Cairo international stadium
The top two teams in each pool advance to the second round, alongside the four best third-placed sides.
The 2019 edition of AFCON has seen surprise qualifiers with debutants, Burundi and Madagascar joining the ring to showcase their abilities at continental stage.
The Edition has seen recalls of the likes of Taifa of Tanzania, after 39 years, Harambee Stars of Kenya after 15 years of no show and Confederation of Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) representatives like Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The expanded edition 24-team tournament has provided COSAFA and CECAFA regions to have a representative to the African cream of football.
COSAFA has South Africa, Namibia, Madagascar, Angola, Zimbabwe and DRC as its envoys while CECAFA has Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.
The following is Groups draw which was conducted on April 12, 2019 in Cairo Egypt.
Group A: Egypt, DRC, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Group B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi
Group C: Senegal Algeria, Tanzania, Kenya
Group D: Morocco, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Namibia
Group E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola
Group F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, Guinea Bissau