Amaju Pinnick, first vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has provided his full support to Cameroon’s staging of next year’s Africa Cup of Nations national team tournament.
Pinnick, chairman of CAF’s Cup of Nations organising committee, visited the country earlier this week to assess the progress being made ahead of the tournament, which is due to be held next summer.
The tournament has expanded from 16 teams to 24 and there have been some concerns over Cameroon’s capacity to host the event, with CAF president Ahmad having been quoted last year as stating that the country’s infrastructure “wasn’t ready” to stage the competition.
Ahmad had reportedly been open to launching a new bidding process for the event but Cameroon appears set to host the tournament as planned, with Pinnick having provided the country with a vote of confidence.
“The president of CAF, Ahmad, is 100 per cent in support of what is happening here,” Pinnick told BBC Sport. “I've been giving him updates and he's very excited about it.
“He has given us a lot of reassurances and nobody is going to take it away from Cameroon. What we have seen so far is really very, very impressive, the government has made huge efforts to host the best AFCON ever and we're very excited about it.
“We are truly from the depth of our soul desirous of Cameroon doing this because we know that it's going to impact hugely not just Cameroon but the continent of Africa.”
Pinnick added: “We don't want people to have any forms of misconceptions. We are here for very serious business and what I saw in the presentations was amazing because after the end of the tournament, I don't think there's any country that will have the facilities Cameroon have.
“We need to go the extra mile. We've come from the (Fifa) World Cup and we've seen very high standards. We want to see a different Nations Cup hosted by Cameroon creating a standard that every other African country will look at Cameroon and say that this is the standard that they've set, how can we meet up with this standard.”
Next year will mark the first Cup of Nations to be held in the new calendar slot of June and July. Cameroon is the defending champion having won the 2017 edition, which was staged in Gabon.