The draw for the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers is reported to have been switched from Cape Town at the end of this month to host nation Morocco in April by the Confederation of African Football.
The draw was intended to be conducted a day before the final of the lesser-known African Nations Championship (Chan), which takes place in South Africa and begins on January 11. Instead, it has been moved to Morocco, according to local reports.
All 53 CAF members have entered the 2015 tournament, Africa’s flagship event, with qualifiers sandwiched into a three-month period after World Cup in Brazil.
It is reportedly the second time the draw has been switched though it was not immediately clear whether politics played a part. It was originally slated for last March during the CAF General Assembly in Marrakash only to be shifted to the eve of the CHAN final. Now, it has been given back to the host nation.
The African Cup of Nations is not to be confused with CHAN which features only players competing in their respective national African leagues.
Overseas players are prevented from taking part, even if they play elsewhere in Africa.
This is the third edition of the tournament, first held in 2009 in a response to a need to strengthen regional competition with so many top African players competing for European clubs.
Fifteen nations qualified to join hosts South Africa but defending champions Tunisia missed out.
“Our objective is to keep developing this tournament, so it becomes as important, maybe not as the Africa Cup of Nations – because the Cup of Nations has now reached a level where it’s a worldwide tournament from an audience perspective – but the CHAN needs to be the ultimate African tournament that highlights the skills and the level of football played on the continent,” CAF general secretary Hicham El Amrani told the BBC.