The Confederation of African Football’s executive committee has approved expanding the African Cup of Nations from 16 to 24 teams and moving the continent’s top tournament from the beginning of the year to June-July.
CAF says the changes should come into effect for the next tournament in 2019 in Cameroon.
Other radical proposals for the African Cup — that it be hosted outside of Africa and invite non-African teams to play — were ditched by the executive committee. CAF says the African Cup will be “exclusively held on African soil with African national teams.”
CAF president Ahmad Ahmad says the approved changes will now be put to CAF’s general assembly in Rabat, Morocco, on Friday to be endorsed by African soccer’s member countries.
Moving the tournament from its January-February slot to the European summer months of June and July has long been seen as necessary to ensure the continent’s top players play at the Cup of Nations.
The move will avoid it taking place at the height of the European league season, a clash which has often undermined the Cup of Nations by making African players choose between staying with their European clubs or representing their country.