The joint bid by Nigeria and neighbours Republic of Benin has loomed to the forefront in the race for hosting of the 36th edition of Africa Cup of Nations in 2027, with the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football to vote on the bids for both 2025 and 2027 in Cairo on Wednesday. The meeting will take place a Cairo Marriott Hotel in Zamalek area of downtown Cairo.
With Morocco virtually guaranteed the honour for the 2025 finals, the joint bid by Nigeria and Republic of Benin is in contest with Senegal, Egypt, Botswana and a tripartite arrangement of Uganda/Kenya/Tanzania for the 2027 event.
Algeria was a strong candidate for the 2027 event until the North African country withdrew from the race on Tuesday morning.
Guinea was originally selected to host the 2025 finals, on the same day that Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire were given the mandates for the 2021 and 2023 editions respectively. But the Guineans fell behind badly in the preparations with infrastructure and other facilities unattended to. A new military government in place has not helped the country’s case, and CAF simply withdrew the hosting right from that country.
Nigeria has put forward the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja; Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt; Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo; Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos; Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna; Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba; Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City and; Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano. In the Republic of Benin, the Stade Mathieu Kerekou in Cotonou and the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo are listed.
Nigeria hosted and won the 12th edition of the AFCON in 1980 and then co-hosted the 22nd finals with Ghana in 2000.
On Tuesday night, Nigeria’s contingent of Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ismaila Abubakar; President of NFF, Ibrahim Musa Gusau; General Secretary of NFF, Mohammed Sanusi and; Project Coordinator, Mainasara Illo arrived in Cairo. They have been joined by Nigeria’s FIFA Council Member and Member of the CAF Executive Committee, Amaju Melvin Pinnick.
In the corridors of CAF’s headquarters in 6th October City, outside Cairo, the Nigeria/Benin Republic bid is being strongly mentioned, with references to two of Africa’s FIFA Council Members and CAF Executive Committee Members, Amaju Melvin Pinnick (former President of NFF) and Mathurin De Chacus, who is the sitting President of Federation Beninoise de Football.
On Wednesday, before the vote is taken by the CAF Executive Committee, after it would have discussed the report of the Independent Assessment Committee, the bidding nations will have 10 minutes to make a presentation, with the Nigeria/Benin case to be canvassed by veteran broadcaster and experienced bid campaigner, Mainasara Illo. The presentation
Illo, who was deputy chief organizer of the 8th All-Africa Games that Nigeria hosted in 2003, and chief organizer of the FIFA U17 World Cup also hosted by Nigeria in 2009, led a bid coordinating team that has taken two different CAF inspection teams round Nigeria’s stadia infrastructure and other facilities, and will make a case that is a hybrid of strong oratory appeal and multi-media presentation.
The bid’s theme is pegged on how it will spur greater collaboration between both nations in the areas of security and commerce, foster seamless transportation between both nations and by extension the West African region, and be an elixir for the development and improvement of critical infrastructure in the two countries.