Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

SA will have only six months to prepare for an event that usually takes years to plan and SA Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan conceded that stepping in as emergency hosts of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) will be a race against the clock.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has stripped Cameroon of the hosting rights, citing fears over security and delays in preparations for the event as reasons for the decision‚ and then asked SA to step in as emergency hosts.

While Safa agreed to Caf’s request at the weekend‚ Jordaan conceded it would be a tough ask to plan for the continent’s first 24-team Nations Cup at such short notice.

“It is a very short time and that is why we said this is a crisis mome nt ‚” he said.

“But what we cannot do is to allow the first 24-team Africa Cup of Nations not to happen or be delayed or postponed.”

Safa officials will meet government in the coming days to seek permission to host the event and insiders said the Caf proposal is likely to be favourably received.

Caf’s latest SOS to SA is hardly surprising as the continental body has developed a habit of sending distress calls to the only country on the continent to host a World Cup whenever a host nation fails to live up to the promises made during the bidding stages.

SA stepped in as Nations Cup hosts in 1996 after Kenya pulled out and did it again in 2013 when Libya withdrew because of the civil war in that country.

Bafana Bafana went on to win the 1996 event on home soil but exited the 2013 tournament in the quarterfinal stages after defeat to Mali.

Given that SA has also been asked to step in and host junior tournaments at short notice‚Jordaan conceded that these last-minute changes are not good for the development of the game on the continent.

“This [the frequent changing of tournament hosts] is something that we [the Caf executive] have discussed and it even goes back to the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations in SA‚” he said.

“In 1996 it was Kenya that was supposed to host it, but they [Caf] took it away from Kenya and gave it to SA.

“Even the CHAN [the African Nations Championship] was taken from Kenya and given to Morocco [in 2018]. And an under-17 tournament was taken from Madagascar and moved to Equatorial Guinea.

“The issue is the time allocated to build infrastructure. Fifa have just taken a decision that the 2026 World Cup will be in Mexico‚ US and Canada.

“The decision on Qatar for 2022 was taken in 2010. Russia had eight years to prepare, Jordaan said.

“Most countries in Africa just have two years and the gap between what exists and what is required is huge.”