The Total African Nations Championship , also known as CHAN, football tournament that serves to complement the Africa Cup of Nations will be hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco in 2018. While the decision was unanimously awarded by executives of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) during a meeting in Nigeria, controversy ensued amidst reports that potential host nation Kenya was not prepared to host the tournament.
Unlike the Africa Cup of Nations, the CHAN tournament is open exclusively to players who are signed with national leagues, which means that superstars such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Yaya Touré and Samuel Eto’o would not qualify since they play in European clubs. The two football conferences in the Americas, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, host similar tournaments very infrequently and at much lower scope than CHAN, which is comprised of 16 national teams. Kenya lost its position as the CHAN host nation a few weeks ago, thereby leaving CAF executives no other choice but to select an emergency replacement. CAF directors explained that various inspections conducted ahead of the final vote indicated that only one of the Kenyan stadiums was adequately prepared to host CHAN, a tournament that requires four venues for the initial round of matches.
CAF executives also mentioned their concerns about the current political climate in Kenya, where recent election results have been widely questioned and annulled earlier this year; however, a fresh election is scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, which has prompted criticism of CAF’s decision. This is the second international football heartbreak for football fans in Kenya. It was less than a decade ago that Kenya was a strong contender to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was instead hosted in South Africa. Kenya will now have to bid for the opportunity to host other major tournaments such as the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which Morocco also hopes to host.
There was a time when Morocco was sidelined by CAF as hosts of any international tournaments following the country’s refusal to host the 2015 Cup of Nations due to fears of Ebola; that situation is firmly in the past as the North African nation is in the midst of a football and development renaissance. It should be noted that by losing the hosting rights, the Kenyan team’s inclusion in the tournament as host nation has been rescinded, and Egypt will now be allowed to enter CHAN as the first African nation to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Other national teams will include Mauritania and Sudan.