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Zambia use Victoria Falls 'bait' in AFCON bid

19 September 2014, 12:29

Johannesburg - Matches played against a backdrop of the spectacular Victoria Falls waterfall is part of the package Zambia are offering to stage the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN).

Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea and Ivory Coast also want to host the 2019 tournament and Algeria, Guinea and Ivory Coast are contenders for the 2021 championship.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee led by president Issa Hayatou from Cameroon will vote Saturday in Ethiopia to decide the two hosts.

Each of the 14 members has one vote and the first country to receive at least eight votes wins.

Should several rounds be necessary, the country with the fewest votes after each round drops out.

The two winning nations are to be announced during a ceremony at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Algeria (1990), Cameroon (1972) and Ivory Coast (1984) are former hosts of the biennial African football showpiece.

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Zambia were awarded the 1988 tournament only to be replaced by Morocco because they lacked the required funds.

Guinea have never hosted the Cup of Nations, a competition first staged 57 years ago in Sudanese capital Khartoum.

What began as a three-team tournament has grown into a three-week, 16-nation, 32-fixture football spectacular with a global TV audience.

Zambia proposed six venues including Livingstone, a town that overlooks the Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone in the mid-19th century is believed to have been the first European to see the Falls on the Zambezi river, which divides Zambia and Zimbabwe.

A ground beside the Falls would challenge Cape Town Stadium, a 2010 World Cup venue lying in the shadow of Table Mountain, as the African football venue with the most spectacular backdrop.

Another boost for the Zambian bid was the recent opening of a Chinese-built 50,000-seat National Heroes Stadium in capital Lusaka.

Zambia have proposed six venues for a tournament needing a minimum of four, Cameroon five and Algeria, Guinea and Ivory Coast four each.

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The Algerian bid seems among the strongest, but will not be helped by the death of Cameroonian striker Albert Ebosse after a match in the north African state.

Ebosse died last month having being struck by a piece of slate allegedly flung by supporter of the club he played for, former African champions JS Kabylie.

Guinea, one of the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola virus that has claimed 2,600 west African lives, must worry that the epidemic could negatively affect their bid.

Each country will make a 30-minute, eve-of-vote presentation and the executive committee also have a report on each candidate to help them decide.

A five-man inspection team led by senior executive committee member Amadou Diakite from Mali spent several days in each of the five countries this year.

Among the facilities under the CAF microscope were stadiums, training grounds, hotels, hospitals and media centres, plus road, rail and air links.

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The Cup of Nations has been spread around the continent lately with southern, central, western and northern countries among the previous five hosts.

Ethiopia were the last east African hosts in 1976 with cash-strapped Kenya withdrawing as 1996 hosts and South Africa taking over.

Kenya, Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and Mali are reportedly interested in replacing strife-torn Libya as the 2017 hosts ahead of a September 30 deadline for bids.

Ironically, the 2017 Cup of Nations hosts will be named only next year, long after the 2019 and 2021 are known.

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21 October 2016, 19:13

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