Black Queens Qualify For 2019 African Games After New Caf Format
Holders Ghana have been handed automatic qualification to the women’s football tournament at the 2019 African Games to be hosted by Morocco.
The Black Queens are however not returning to the competition by virtue of their status as defending champions but rather on the basis of a decision by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to hand qualification slots to the eight countries who participated at the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) hosted by Ghana last December.
This Caf decision thus erases the qualifiers which were expected to be played between February and April this year.
Ghana will thus be joined by African champions Nigeria, AWCON runners-up South Africa, Cameroon, Mali, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea and Algeria to compete at African games scheduled for August 23 to September 3.
This year’s African Games doubles as a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics women’s football tournament. Africa has one slot and will be represented by the eventual champion from Morocco 2019.
The Morocco conundrum
This Caf new directive, which aims to avoid the qualifiers and give qualification slots to the recent AWCON participants, puts the chances of Morocco featuring in the 8-nation women’s football event in the balance.
In July last year, Morocco stepped in to stage the 2019 African Games following the withdrawal of Equatorial Guinea as hosts of the 12th edition of the multi-sport Games.
Equatorial Guinea were named first-time hosts in 2016 but surprisingly announced later in November 2017 that they would no longer be able to organize the event citing falling oil prices and economic problems as some reasons for the withdrawal.
The 2019 African Games will mark Morocco’s first participation at the continental event since the 1978 edition in Algiers.