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Equatorial Guinea steps in as 2015 Cup of Nations host

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has named 2012 Africa Cup of Nations co-host Equatorial Guinea as the new destination for the 2015 edition of the national team tournament.

Equatorial Guinea co-hosted the 2012 Cup of Nations with Gabon and will replace Morocco as sole host of the 2015 event, which will retain its original dates of January 17 to February 8. The four cities selected for the finals are Malabo, Bata, Mongomo and Ebebiyin, with Malabo set to host the draw for the tournament on December 3.

The CAF on Tuesday stripped Morocco of the hosting rights for the tournament and ejected its national team from the competition, following the refusal of the North African country’s government to stage the event in its specified dates due to the ongoing Ebola crisis.

Controversially, Equatorial Guinea will now take Morocco’s place in the tournament as host nation. The CAF had disqualified the national team from the tournament in July after it was found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in a preliminary qualifier against Mauritania on May 17.

CAF said the appointment was made today (Friday) following “fraternal and fruitful discussions” between President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and  CAF president Issa Hayatou.

CAF added: “The Executive Committee of CAF and president Issa Hayatou seize this opportunity to express their sincere thanks and deep appreciation to the people of Equatorial Guinea, its government, and particularly to His Excellency the Head of State and President of the Republic Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.”

CAF has still to find a replacement for Libya as host of the 2017 Cup of Nations. Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan and Zimbabwe all put bids forward for the event in October.