The news will come as a relief to the South African Football Association (SAFA) after it was criticised by CAF general secretary Hicham El Amrani for claiming it had landed the tournament earlier this month. SAFA had revealed that it had reached an agreement with its Libyan counterpart to switch the hosting rights to future editions of the continent’s showpiece tournament. Libya was due to stage the 2013 event, but the security situation in the country, where fighting continues in several cities, had caused concern amongst African football officials.
Algeria and Nigeria were also in contention for the 2013 Cup of Nations, but CAF has chosen South Africa with the country also being awarded Libya’s staging of the 2014 African Nations Championship, an event for locally-based footballers. Libya is now scheduled to take over the 2017 tournament from South Africa. “The Executive Committee…decided on the swapping between Libya and South Africa for 2013 and 2017 respectively, considering the current political situation prevailing in Libya,” a CAF statement read.
“This means that South Africa will host 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and Libya, 2017 Africa Cup of Nations,” the statement added. South Africa last staged the Cup of Nations in 1996 and the 2013 event will enable the country to utilise the stadia developed for last year’s World Cup, some of which have been labelled ‘white elephants’ in the wake of the tournament.
“The Nations Cup presents them (the stadia) with a great opportunity,” SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani told BBC Sport. “They will be better utilised for the better use of the game itself and (show) that taxpayers’ money has been well-invested.” Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will co-host the 2012 Cup of Nations in January and February, with the 2013 edition brought forward a year as CAF restructures its calendar to avoid its tournament clashing with the World Cup.