The next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has been postponed by 12 months, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) confirmed in their Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday.
The 33rd edition of the biennial tournament was due to begin in Cameroon on January 9, 2021, but has now been pushed back to January 2022 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic across the continent.
Caf’s concerns about the ability to fit in the outstanding qualifiers before the intended start date of January 2021 are behind the decision to postpone the 24-team tournament, although African football’s governing body has not announced whether the 34th edition of the tournament—scheduled for Ivory Coast in 2023—will also be pushed back.
On Thursday, Fifa announced that September’s international football window would be cancelled for all territories outside Europe and South America, denying Africa a critical window in which to play some of the outstanding four rounds of qualification.
While Caf could play some of the outstanding qualifiers in the October-November international window, this would impact the World Cup qualifying campaign, where the five qualifying teams must play in eight qualifiers before the Qatar tournament in late 2022.