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SPORTS UPDATE

Morocco designated to host 2023 AFCON U-23

After five unsuccessful bid for the FIFA World Cup, Morocco may have finally become the ultimate destination for hosting of football competitions in the continent.

They had failed in the bid for the World Cup in 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2026 and are reportedly planning another bid for the 2030 edition.

The kingdom, currently hosting the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) has also been designated as the host country for the Under 23 Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to run from 2 to 16 November next year. The two finalists and the second runners-up will secure tickets to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The award of the hosting rights comes after Morocco had also hosted what is the last one-match final of the CAF Champions League this year.

The kingdom has always being the preferred venues for other African countries for their ‘home’ matches. Sao Tome last month took their home match of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations against Nigeria to Agadir in Morocco.

Most African countries moved their home matches of the World Cup qualifiers to Morocco. According to Sports Village Square penultimate closing state of the Qatar 2022 qualifiers, there was a five-day seven-match ‘Festival’ of World Cup qualifiers in the kingdom.

Within the period, a series of seven World Cup qualifying matches involving 10 countries including Nigeria were played. The kingdom appears to have become everyone’s destination due to its world-class infrastructure.

With arenas in some of African countries ruled inadequate and coupled with unrest, instability as well as deteriorating health conditions in some of the countries, the ultimate destination turned to be Morocco.

The countries with inadequate facilities included: Sudan, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, and Liberia. They all opted for Morocco for their home games just as they did in the days leading to 2015 Afcon when owing to outbreak of Ebola virus, Guinea took their matches to Morocco.

The ‘mini World Cup’ took place between November 12 and Tuesday 16, as part of the qualifying rounds for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Tangier, Marrakech, Agadir, Rabat, and Casablanca will host the games.

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