Exit Libya: Egypt to bid for 2017 African Cup of Nations

Mahmoud Elassal, Monday 22 Sep 2014

Libya were due to host the 2017 tournament but had to withdraw due to ongoing violence in the country

Egypt's Captain Ahmed Hassan celebrates African Cup title which was held in Cairo in 2006 (photo: Reuters)

Egypt is ready to bid for the 2017 African Cup of Nations after the tournament was stripped from Libya for security reasons, Sports Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz announced on Monday.

Ongoing fighting in Libya caused delays to the building of new stadiums for the 16-team tournament.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) invited new bidders for the tournament in August.

"The government has agreed we can bid for the 2017 African Cup of Nations," Abdel-Aziz told a radio programme on Monday.

"We are waiting for the Egyptian Football Association who will prepare a file to be sent to the Confederation of African Football about our bid to host the tournament," he added.

Countries wishing to host the tournament have until 30 September to deliver their expressions of interest, the CAF added.

"Next Thursday will be the final day for the football association to finalise their application papers with the Confederation of African Football," Abdel-Aziz concluded.

Libya has endured weeks of chaos as the government struggles to control former rebel factions that helped topple former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The North African country was originally scheduled to hold the Nations Cup in 2013 but because of the civil war swapped with 2017 hosts South Africa.

Last time Egypt hosted the African Cup of Nations in 2006. They won the title that year.

The Pharaohs are the record winners of the Nations Cup with seven titles under their belt, winning in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Egypt have been defeated twice in their current bid to return to the 2015 tournament after two absences, losing 2-0 away against Senegal and 1-0 at home against Tunisia in Group E of the Morocco championship qualifiers.

Domestic football competitions in Egypt are currently played behind closed doors but the sports minster hinted that fans could return to stadiums soon.

"We are working to allow 5,000 fans to attend the Ahly match in the second leg of the CAF Confederation Cup semifinals next week," Abdel-Aziz said.

Ahly are scheduled to host Cameroonian side Coton Sport in the second leg of the CAF Confederations Cup on Saturday. They are just one game away from the final after beating Coton 1-0 in Cameroon this week.

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