Algeria head a list of four bids to host the 2027 African Cup of Nations, which the Confederation of African Football announced on Thursday, but Morocco are a surprise omission suggesting a compromise over the 2025 edition has been struck.
A statement said CAF had received bids from Algeria, Botswana, Egypt and a joint candidacy from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda for the 2027 tournament after the expiry of the deadline for declarations of interest.
CAF have repeatedly delayed deciding who will replace Guinea as the 2025 hosts. They were stripped last year of the hosting rights after being found to be too far behind in building infrastructure for the event.
Algeria and Morocco are the top two contenders for 2025 but choosing between the two neighbours has become a political dilemma for CAF, sources have told Reuters.
But with Algeria now emerging as a candidate for the 2027 tournament as well, the way is clear for Morocco to be handed the hosting of the 2025 finals and then Algeria the tournament two years thereafter.
The two North African neighbours have an adversarial relationship, with diplomatic ties suspended, and winning the rights to host the 2025 Cup of Nations would be a matter of national pride and a public relations triumph.
Morocco have emerged as a powerful political force behind the scenes in African football over recent years and hosted several continental championships when other countries have been unwilling to do so, like last year’s Women’s Cup of Nations.
Algeria, not wishing to be outdone, built an impressive new stadium in the capital Algiers for this January’s hosting of the African Nation Championship, the tournament for national teams made up of only home-based players.
But the tournament was spoilt when Morocco boycotted it after being refused permission to fly their team into Algeria, who have had a flight ban on Moroccan aircrafts since 2021.
The 2023 Cup of Nations finals are to be played in the Ivory Coast but have been moved to January next year because of fears the rainy season will impact the tournament.
The four bids for 2027 would be subjected to an inspection in June and July, but CAF said a date for the decision on the hosts, traditionally made by its executive committee, was still to be determined.