CAIRO, Egypt, Apr 10 – Just over two months to the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the buzz is growing in Cairo with the Egyptian authorities already getting things ready to host the first ever expanded edition of the biennial championship.
For the first time, the tournament will be held in the middle of the year between June and July, outside the traditional January-February calendar and will have 24 teams, up from the previous 16.
Save for the venues already being worked on, the host nation is putting up the finer logistical details to ensure smooth running and comfort of the participating teams, officials and fans.
At the Cairo International Airport, a VIP check in gate has already been established and completed from where arrival of teams and accredited officials, including the press will be fastracked to ensure no delays at the airport.
An accreditation will be enough document to issue visas on arrival and the checkout process has been made smooth to ensure maximum comfort and minimize time wasted on procedural work at the airport.
For the fans wishing to travel to Egypt to cheer their favorite teams, the Local Organizing Committee is working on the possible use of Fan IDs, like the ones used at the World Cup in Russia last year to make it easy for people to troop to the North African country for the tournament.
The Cup of Nations will be staged across six venues, up from four during the last Cup of Nations in Gabon in 2017. Cairo will have three stadia hosting the event (Cairo International Stadium, 30th June Stadium, Al Salaam Stadium) with other venues in Alexandria, Suez and Ismailia.
Also for the first time ever, the tournament will see the use of Vide Assistant Referees as the football world continues to glide into the technological advancement to aid in better officiating.
On Tuesday, CAF held two separate workshops for the Venue Press Officers and their deputies as well as the General Coordinators who will be at the forefront to ensure the tournament runs smoothly.
The Press Officers will be there to guide the media throughout the tournament while the General Coordinators are tasked to ensure that everything on match day falls to script.
“It will be a challenge for CAF (to have 24 teams across six venues) which puts great resources into the organization of this kind of competition but the presence of the General Coordinators will guarantee the smooth running of the football matches and the total success for all the stakeholders,” said Khalek Lemkacher, a match coordinator from Tunisia.
On Wednesday, another two workshops will be held in Cairo, one for the coaches and the team managers while another one will be conducted at the CAF headquarters for the local Egyptian press.
The draw for the competition will be conducted on Friday outside the iconic Egyptian pyramids in Giza after which plans will now go into top gear for the tournament that kicks off on June 21.
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