Africa Cup of Nations moved to January next year, says Cameroon

Premier League clubs face losing star players as 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is moved from summer to January

Cape Town - The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations will start months earlier on January 9 after its dates were moved, hosts Cameroon have announced.

The next edition of the competition will now take place from January 9 to February 6 2021 rather than June-July which was the original schedule.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) and Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast) are also likely to feature in addition to Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez as well as a number of other Premier League club first-team players.

For the first time the tournament was played in the summer in Egypt in June/July a year ago with no disruptions to the schedule of matches.

The AFCON was traditionally held in January and February until CAF chose to alter the timing in 2017 when it also increased the number of participating teams from 16 to 24.

The 24-nation competition was originally planned to begin in June, but the Cameroonian soccer federation said Wednesday it will be held from January 9-Feb.

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The 2019 tournament - hosted by Egypt and won by Algeria - was held in July, as CAF elected to move the tournament to fit in line with the northern hemisphere summer, meaning clubs in Europe's major leagues were unaffected.

"Indeed, faced with the unfavorable climatic conditions during the period initially fixed, Cocan (LOC) wanted to review it", a statement from CAF on Wednesday read.

"After listening to the various arguments and viewpoints, and in particular from the Cameroonian meteorological authorities, the coaches and players; the representatives of the Afcon organising committee, which received the mandate from Caf Executive Committee to take the decision, has granted this request".

Tonny Baffoe, Caf's deputy general secretary.

The 2019 Cup of Nations, hosted by Egypt as a late replacement for Cameroon, was the first in the new June slot.

Caf explained that the change has been made at the request of Cameroon.

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