By Eyong-eta Eyong
The Confederation of African Football, CAF, has confirmed the venue and format change for the 24th Edition of the 2019/20 Champions League semifinals and final following Cameroon’s withdrawal as host.
This comes a month after FECAFOOT President Seidou Mbombo Njoya in a press conference announced Cameroon’s decision to withdraw from hosting the 2019/20 CAF Champions League Semifinals and finals due to the Corona virus pandemic.
The decision came as a shock to many Cameroonians who opined it was not necessary to declined when top competitions in Europe were going on too, with precautions to limit or prevent the spread of the virus.
Originally, Ethiopia was on February 4, 2018, designated to host the tournament after the previous finals in Morocco. The Ethiopian Football Federation admitted it was not ready to host this competition, and Cameroon stepped in to replace Ethiopia. On April 13 2019, Cameroon was appointed to replace Ethiopia as host of the tournament. The appointment came after Cameroon was stripped off the hosting right of the just ended edition of African Cup of Nations in 2019 hosted by Egypt.
The games were scheduled to take place at one central location in a one-legged format with Al Ahly (Egypt) meeting Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) while Zamalek (Egypt) take on Raja Casablanca (Morocco) in the last-four round.
According to information released by CAF recently, the semifinals will be played on a home and away basis with the first leg matches to be played on September 25 and 26 in Morocco, while the second leg matches will be played, October 2 and 3, in Egypt.
The one-off final will happen at a neutral venue on 16 or 17 October 2020. The football body has invited bids from member associations, excluding Egypt and Morocco, for the hosting rights. The deadline for bid submission is August 17, 2020. CAF adds that should two teams from the same FA reach the final, the encounter will be played in that Country. Espérance de Tunis, who had won the last two titles, was eliminated by Zamalek in the quarter-finals. The winners of the 2019–20 CAF Champions League will qualify for the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar, and earn the right to play against the winners of the 2019–20 CAF Confederation Cup in the 2020 CAF Super Cup in August.