Egypt's Football Association (EFA) chairman Hani Abo-Rida has revealed the nominated hosting governorates and stadiums of the upcoming African Cup of Nations, adding that the Pharaohs are strong favorites to win the prestigious title at home next summer.
"The stadiums are Port Said Stadium in Port Said, Suez and Military stadiums in Suez, Cairo Stadium in Cairo, El-Salam Stadium in Qalioubiya, Alexandria and Haras-Elhodoud stadiums in Alexandria and Ismailia Stadium in Ismailia," Abo-Rida said in an interview with ON Sport TV channel late on Monday.
"We don't choose a stadium only for its green pitch, but also we put into consideration other key factors like the hotels, transportation and the atmosphere in the hosting city," he added.
On 8 January, Egypt was granted the hosting rights of the 2019 African Cup of Nations after winning a majority of votes of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Egypt obtained 16 out of 18 votes, with only one vote going to sole rival South Africa, while the remaining voting country abstained.
"We preferred to exclude Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium after it hosted many league matches in recent years. We need to do our best in the coming period to get Cairo Stadium at its best before the tournament," Abo-Rida, who is also a member of the FIFA Council, explained.
"Ismailia Stadium needs huge work to be ready. We can't punish the city by excluding its stadium due to the crowd trouble in the recent Confederation Cup match [between Egypt's Ismaily and Tunisian side club Africain]," he added.
Last December, Cameroon was stripped of the right to host the 2019 African Cup of Nations due to both serious delays in its preparations for the cup and the persistence of a violent separatist uprising near two of the planned venues.
Egypt and South Africa were the only two countries to submit their candidacy to become the 2019 host.
The 2019 AFCON is scheduled to take place from 15 June to 13 July, having been moved from January/February to avoid club-versus-country clashes.
Egypt has already hosted four editions of the cup: in 1959, 1974, 1986 and 2006.
The Pharaohs have won the prestigious competition seven times and Abo-Rida is confident that another title could be added to the victory list this year at home.
"Egypt’s team is currently among the top ranked teams. Fan support in the stands and the efforts by the current distinguished squad, including key star Mohamed Salah, will go a long way to helping the team win the African title," Abo-Rida said.
This year’s edition has seen major innovations, with the tournament expanded to 24 teams up from 16, and moved to a summer schedule instead of its former January-February calendar.
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