When Fouzi Lekjaa, president of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation, set off for Cairo (Egypt), he had high hopes that his country would host such an important and prestigious tournament as the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 37 years later.
Tuesday was marked by bizarre situations caused by Morocco's rivals in the race for the 2025 CAN Africa Cup of Nations. The duo of Nigeria and Benin withdrew, as did Zambia, but the most controversial case was that of Algeria. According to media reports in Cairo, the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football did not accept Algeria's withdrawal in order to give the impression that there were at least two countries in the running for the organisation.
In any case, with Algeria out of the game, the CAF decided that Morocco would continue its sporting expansion with the award of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2025. The tournament had not been held in North Africa since 1988. In that year, Cameroon beat Nigeria in the final and Morocco lost to Algeria on penalties. In fact, the CAN has eluded the Atlas Lions, who only lifted the trophy in 1976 when they drew 1-1 in the final against Guinea in Ethiopia.
Morocco's deployment to celebrate this tournament goes much further than that because on the horizon will be the 2030 World Cup to which they aspire together with Spain and Portugal in a single bid, while they will face Saudi Arabia, Greece and Egypt who are also bidding for the world's top tournament.
The jewel in the crown of the venues that Morocco is preparing for the 2025 CAN and which would be used for the 2030 World Cup is the Grand Stade de Casablanca, which would be built with a capacity for 93,000 fans. In addition, the 45,000-seat Uchida stadium and the 46,000-seat Tetouan stadium could also be built.
The venues that will be renovated include the Grand Stade de Marrakech, which will have a capacity of 70,000 spectators, although the technicians will have to assess how it has been left after the earthquake of 8 September. Other stadiums that could be renovated are the Adrar stadium (46,000), the Fez stadium (46,000), the Prince Moulay Abdellah stadium (46,000) and the Ibn Battouta stadium (65,000).
The modular stadiums that could also support the CAN and the World Cup are Casablanca, El Jadida, Marrakech, Meknes, Nador and Ouarzazate.
Until the big event arrives, Morocco must play the 2023 CAN, which will be held in Côte d'Ivoire from 11 January to 13 February 2024, thus recovering its usual dates, which have been altered by the World Cup in Qatar. The draw will be made on 12 October, when Morocco will be hoping for a better tournament than in 2021, when they lost in the quarter-finals to Egypt.