Equatorial Guinea has agreed to host Africa’s most important soccer tournament early next year after Morocco refused, citing fear of the possible spread of Ebola.
Having co-hosted the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, Equatorial Guinea has experience organizing the 16-team tournament, which is the continent’s biennial championship. Equatorial Guinea will also replace Morocco in the 16-team field, despite being thrown out of the tournament in July for fielding an ineligible player in a match against Mauritania.
The Confederation of African Football, expressing “thanks and deep appreciation,” announced Friday that the 2015 Cup would be held from Jan. 17 to Feb. 8 in four cities in Equatorial Guinea.
C.A.F., the regional governing body, had expressed concern about severe financial difficulties if the tournament were to be postponed.
The final round of qualifying will be completed in this week. Of the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak, Liberia has been eliminated from the qualifying tournament and Sierra Leone sits last in its group. Guinea has an outside chance of qualifying.