Algeria has withdrawn from the race to host the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on the eve of the vote which will decide which countries are awarded the tournament in 2025 and 2027.
The vote by Afcon organisers the Confederation of African Football (Caf) will resolve a much-delayed decision over who will replace Guinea as 2025 hosts.
The country was stripped of the tournament in October last year due to concerns about infrastructure and facilities.
Morocco is expected to be named as Guinea’s replacement, with current title holders Senegal favourites to be awarded the 2027 edition.
Algeria had been in the running for both the 2025 and 2027 events, but newly-elected president of the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) Walid Sadi used an appearance on state TV on Tuesday to announce the country’s withdrawal from the bidding process, stating the move was motivated by a “new approach to the football development strategy in Algeria”.
The FAF has also said it now plans to “focus its efforts on the reorganisation and revitalisation of football in Algeria”.
That leaves Morocco, Zambia and a joint Nigeria-Benin bid as the remaining candidates for 2025.
Senegal, Egypt, Botswana and a combined East African bid from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are in the running for 2027.
The bids from both Algeria and Morocco have been complicated by the adversarial political relationship between the two countries, which led to diplomatic ties being severed in 2021.
Earlier this year, defending champions Morocco withdrew from the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Algeria after being refused a direct flight by the host nation.
Patrice Motsepe, Caf President, during the draw ceremony for the 2022 Afcon
South African Patrice Motsepe has been the Caf president since March 2021
At the time, Caf president Patrice Motsepe said: “We must not get involved in what is happening between Algeria and Morocco. Caf should never intervene in politics”.
Both countries boast superb stadia and infrastructure, a football-loving population and are capable of delivering world-class football tournaments.
Members of Caf’s executive committee will cast their votes on Wednesday having studied independent appraisals of each bidder.
While Motsepe has previously praised the organisational abilities of both Morocco and Algeria, comments made during this year’s CHAN could also have influenced Algeria’s decision to withdraw.
The Caf president outlined a vision for regional rotation of Afcon, saying “We cannot assign the organisation successively to the same region”.
However, several months later, Caf secretary general Veron Mosengo-Omba said such rotation may not always be possible.
“Today, only five or six countries out of the 54 Caf members are able to apply to host (Afcon). Consequently, it will not be possible to make this alternation,” he said.
Wednesday’s vote will reveal whether or not Caf intends to attempt a policy of regional rotation or whether the trend of recent dominance by North and West African nations will continue when it comes to hosting.