Following a two-day seminar held in Morocco last week by the executive members and dignitaries of the African Cup of Nations, the committee has decided to expand the teams in the competition from 16 national teams to 24 national teams.
The meeting also concluded that the dates of the competition will change from January and February to June and July, with some labeling it as a “SUMMER AFCON”.
These decisions will take place effective immediately at the next edition of the competition which is expected to be hosted by current champions, Cameroon in 2019.
After these decisions were made, series of complaints and arguments such as the weather and other factors were presented but as it stands, the committee won’t budge.
But the real concern for Nigerians and fans of the Super Eagles, of course will be how these changes benefit us.
As we know, Nigeria has missed out on two previous editions of the competition. Failing to qualify for a third one would be a total disaster and to say teh least, a devastating blow to the rebuilding project ongoing.
The again, with this new change to the qualification system, it is almost impossible to say that the Eagles will not qualify for the 2019 AFCON – as each group will have the lottery of two teams qualifying instead of just one.
This of course will cool the nerves of the team as they will have the chance to bounce back from their surprising yet embarrassing defeat in the hands of South Africa on the 10th of July.
Another positive to take away from these changes is that it allays the fear of Nigerian players losing their place at their respective clubs as a result of jetting off in January for the Afcon will of course be no more.
They will be able to concentrate on doing well their clubs and hopefully carry that form to the Eagles and replicate it in June of 2019.
Furthermore, it could help to ensure an improved relationship between the NFF and those European clubs that would naturally throw a fit when their Star Nigerian players head out for the Motherland.
Meaning that complaints on the use of players and other matters related which may bring arguments and misunderstandings between them both will lessen.
Thankfully, the positives appear to outweigh the negatives.
These changes made to the competition will of course make it stiffer and tougher emerge from the qualifying rounds unscathed.
The number of qualifying matches will certainly increase and thus tournament top teams like Nigeria will have to put in some serious effort and also a bit of luck to get through.
Meanwhile, with the number of teams to play in the competition, the hosts will also have to be on top of their game in making sure they are able to host a successful competition.
We hope this is the beginning of a new phase in Africa’s most prestigious sporting competition the AFCON.
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