Chan left limping after play fails to spark fans
By Mark Gleeson
A CAF flag was handed to Rwanda after Saturday’s African Nations Championship final in Cape Town.
Symbolically, it represents the fact that the small central African country will host the next Chan tournament, in two years’ time.
But the future of the 16-team event is unclear as CAF admitted that it has received no bids to host the 2018 and 2020 tournaments – despite a December 31 deadline.
What is more, CAF’s television partners, Sport Five, are questioning the marketability and revenue-generating potential of an event without major African stars.
CAF are to formally extend the deadline for hosting bids for 2018 and 2020, but will most probably have to do a great deal of cajoling behind the scenes.
Chan’s costs are now on a par with those for the African Nations Cup, but the tournament earns just a fraction of the commercial value of the Nations Cup.
Libya’s success in Saturday’s final was something of a fairy tale for that country after its recent civil war.
But, in reality, it was also some-what hollow, seeing that they won just one game over the course of the tournament, and needed three successive penalty shootouts to make their way through to the final.
The quality of the football was generally dire, especially in the knockout stages.
Only two of the 32 matches provided any sparkle – Nigeria’s stunning come-from-behind victory against Morocco in the quarters and their demolition of the ill-fated host country, South Africa, in the group phase.
The last eight hours of football at Chan 2014 produced just one solitary goal from open play and the final was an endless turnover of possession, injury stoppages, poor shooting and even poorer passing.
Officials of the French marketing and TV rights company Sport Five said that there would be a future discussion with CAF about their continued participation at the event, after little television income was generated.
However, it is difficult to see CAF president Issa Hayatou canning an event that is designed to give home-based African players a chance for proper international exposure.
He has been praised for the idea, but, in reality, the poor standard of football does little to help the image of the African game.
It was predicted that the Chan 2014 tournament could prove an expansive shopping mall for Premier Soccer League clubs, but by transfer window day just two players had been picked up.
They were the Zimbabwean pair of Simba Sithole, who joins Ajax Cape Town, and winger Kudakwashe Mahachi, added by Sundowns to their list of foreigners, but who can only play next season.