Africa Cup of Nations expands to 24 teams
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Africa Cup of Nations expands to 24 teams

Posted NDI EUGENE NDI in Yaounde and BBC Sport

on  Thursday, July 20   2017 at  19:16

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be contested by 24 teams, says the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

Caf's executive committee approved the proposal on Thursday at a meeting in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Africa's flagship sporting event has featured 16 teams since 1996.

A decision on whether the finals will be moved from January and February to June and July is still awaited.

Denied reports

The expansion of the tournament could create problems for hosts Cameroon.

However, Sports minister Pierre Ismael Bidoung Mkpatt denied reports that preparations were behind schedule.

“Out of the 32 stadia expected from Cameroon, the 11 used during the 2016 women’s Afcon are ready, available and operational.

"For the other 21 left, 14 are under rehabilitation and 7 are to be constructed,” the minister said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The winners

Mkpatt announced that the first Caf inspection mission will arrive in Yaounde “in the weeks ahead”.

The expansion of the continental tournament follows a two-day symposium organised by Caf president Ahmad Ahmad to discuss the state of African football.

Further changes are expected but have yet to be announced.

Speculations were rife that Cameroon, the winners of the Gabon tournament this year, could lose the hosting rights to either Algeria or Morocco.

The two Arab states have reportedly expressed their readiness to host the tournament should Caf disqualify Cameroon.