African football bosses on Thursday announced the dates for the next African Cup of Nations tournament.
The 24-team event was scheduled for January 2021 in Cameroon but was postponed for a year as part of the international effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Even though the disease continues to rack up victims, the Confederation of African Football (Caf), which organises the Cup of Nations tournament, said it would run between 9 January and 6 February at six venues in the cities of Yaoundé, Douala, Garoua, Limbe and Bafoussam.
Over the past week, the final two rounds of qualifying matches have been played to determine the last few members of next year’s cast.
On Tuesday, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde secured their berths. Sierra Leone or Benin should have joined them but their Group L match in Freetown was cancelled amid acrimony.
The furore erupted after Sierra Leonean officials said five of the Benin team had the coronavirus. Caf match delegates failed to sort out the veracity of the claims and eventually called off the encounter.
Tournament chiefs say the match will be played during the next international window in June.
“The Caf organising committee for the Cup of Nations made this decision after reviewing official accounts of the incidents that stopped the match from taking place at the scheduled time,” said a spokesman.
Benin, hoping to emulate their surge to the quarter-finals in 2019, need a point to advance while Sierra Leone must win to play at the competition for the first time since 1996.
The draw for the six groups will take place on 25 June.