Wafcon 2024 and Afcon 2025: Caf admits ‘scheduling nightmare’

Caf’s statutes say both iterations of the Nations Cup should be held once every two years – rather than once every four as is the case with most major championships organised by other confederations.

However, that puts pressure on the African game’s governing body to fit its competitions into an ever-more-crowded international calendar.

Qualifying for the 2024 Wafcon was completed last December, but deciding when to hold the 12-team finals is complicated by the fact that record nine-time winners Nigeria and Zambia will be participating in the Paris Olympics during July and August.

Desiree Ellis, coach of reigning continental champions South Africa, says the crowded schedule is evidence of rapid growth in the women’s game – but she remains critical of Caf’s handling of the situation.

“If it (Wafcon) is postponed or cancelled, it will be a huge, huge disappointment,” the 61-year-old told BBC Sport Africa, pointing out that the 2020 Nations Cup was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, unlike the men’s 2021 tournament which was merely postponed.

“The growth of women’s football over the last couple of years has really shot through the roof, especially on the African continent.

“Just communicate whether it’s happening or whether it’s not happening so we know how to prepare going forward.”

The growth of women’s football in Africa has been made clear this year by two record-breaking transfer fees paid for Zambian players.

In February, forward Rachel Kundananji set a new world record when joining American team Bay FC for $860,000 (£685,000) and the next month Copper Queens skipper Barbra Banda moved to fellow National Women’s Soccer League side Orlando Pride for $740,000 (£581,000).

Mosengo-Omba says Caf’s only option for scheduling Wafcon this year would involve playing it outside of an agreed international window – meaning club sides would not be compelled to release their stellar names.

“Do we play Women’s Afcon without our best players? This is something that personally I think is not good,” he said.

“We cannot come back by using only local (domestic-based) players. They are good, but the standard would not be the same.”

The alternative is a postponement until 2025.

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