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Hosting Africa Cup of Nations likely to revive football, tourism sectors in Egypt, Xinhua

Saturday 12 January 2019 12:56 PM

Africa Cup of Nations
Africa Cup of Nations

Egypt is five months away from hosting Africa's largest continental football tournament, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), which is expected to revive the football sector in the country and strongly push the ailing tourism sector.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Tuesday that Egypt will host the 2019 AFCON for the fifth time in its history.

The tournament was initially scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon. However, Cameroon was stripped of the right to host the tournament for serious delay in preparations.

Egypt has won the right to host the tournament over its sole rival South Africa, as it obtained 16 out of 18 votes in favor.

"Hosting the AFCON is very good for Egyptian sports," said Cairo-based sports critic Radwan Zayat. "Egypt is ready with all its facilities, infrastructure and great experience to host the tournament as we have in Egypt the best stadiums."

Zayat, also a member of the Egyptian parliament, said Egypt is able to organize a distinguished tournament this year.

He noted that the tournament will have a very positive impact on the Egyptian football, in addition to the great financial return that Egypt will get from hosting it.
"I think this tournament will be a turning point in the history of the Egyptian football ... The return of spectators after a long ban is one of the most important gains. There is an opportunity for Egypt to win the championship as we will play at home as it happened in 2006," he added.

The 2019 AFCON is scheduled to take place from June 15 to July 13.

Egypt hosted four African Cup of Nations' tournaments in 1957, 1974, 1986 and 2006 respectively and has won the title for seven times.

This year's edition has seen major innovations, with the tournament expanded to 24 teams from 16, and moved to a summer schedule instead of its former calendar date of January-February.

Before Egypt was elected as the host country, there had been worries that votes will not be in favor of Egypt as the country has witnessed fragile security conditions over the past year.

Hosting the tournament is historic, as it shows the global recognition of Egypt's capability to secure the safety of players, delegations and fans, security expert Colonel Hatem Saber told Xinhua.