Tomorrow the AFCON kicks off in Gabon and 16 African teams will be vying for the crown that would make them kings of Africa for the next 2 years at least.
So why has there been very little publicity of this once infamous continental show-piece. Even in the continent itself there isn’t much media hype, rather league football from other continents have more coverage than the most prestigious football tournament in Africa.
For this reason, there have been pleas from various individuals and groups for the show-piece to be placed at the end of the traditional football seasons so players would not have to choose between playing for their countries or clubs. Apparently these pleas have fallen on deaf ears with excuses of bad weather conditions around that time being given among a few other ones.
The AFCON used to be played on world cup years but was later changed to odd numbered years so the stress of playing club football and two major tournaments would be reduced on players. This was a nice move but the need for further improvements is very evident. A four-year interval between tournaments would be a good start at least.
Tomorrow hosts Gabon will kick off against Guinea-Bissau and the harsh reality is that very few people from the African continent will be gathering around to watch that match. It is quite sad.
CAF have to do something about this and either move the continental showpiece to a better time so it can get the coverage and publicity it deserves or else face the daunting prospect of AFCON becoming an obsolete competition in the years to come.