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Algeria baffled by AFCON snub
Algeria Minister of Sports Mohamed Tahmi lashed out at African football’s governing body (CAF) on Thursday after its decision not to award the north African nation hosting rights for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The winning bid went to Gabon over Ghana and Algeria after a vote involving 14 members of CAF’s Executive Committee.
Africa’s largest nation by area, Algeria appeared to be the front-runner early in the race. A resurgence of football in the Maghreb nation and a relative return to political normalcy after internal strife in the 1990s appeared to have Algeria poised to host its first AFCON since 1990.
The recency of Gabon (2012 with Equatorial Guinea) and Ghana (2008) having hosted African football’s showpiece event also contributed to the consensus of Algeria being the most cogent option.
“Algeria has treated CAF with all respect in the past years but now I think we will change that. They will see a new face,” Tahmi added.
Rumors have also circulated of a row between Algerian Football Federation (FAF) chief Mohamed Raouraoua and CAF President Issa Hayatou. Raouraoua purportedly wanted to supplant Hayatou as president, a position he’s held since 1988. Unless Hayatou took the challenge lightly, it’s possible his influence swayed the committee’s decision.
FAF vice president Mohamed Meshrani doubts the legitimacy of Wednesday’s vote.
“I dare if anyone can tell us about the number of votes that Gabon had. I have the answer; no one knows that. We will not stop here. We will ask CAF how they ignored our offer, till now I can’t believe it,” he said.
As of Thursday, CAF has not disclosed any detailed breakdown of the voting.
Qualification for the biennial event kicks off in June. Algeria has been paired with Ethiopia, Lesotho, and Seychelles in Group J.