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Morocco replaces Kenya as African Nations Championship tournament host

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CAIRO (AP) The Confederation of African Football has selected Morocco to replace Kenya as host of next year’s African Nations Championship.

CAF says its emergency committee made the decision on Saturday at a meeting in Lagos, Nigeria. It was announced Sunday.

Kenya was stripped of hosting duties for the tournament because it was way behind with its preparations.

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Morocco beat a bid from Equatorial Guinea in a fast-tracked process after CAF stripped Kenya of the tournament three weeks ago. CAF says Ethiopia also expressed an interest in hosting but didn’t provide government guarantees.

The African Nations Championship is the continent’s No. 2 national team tournament after the African Cup of Nations. The Africa Nations Championship, also known as CHAN, is contested by teams made up of home-based players only.

Morocco will now host the 16 teams from Jan. 12-Feb. 4, an early chance to test its infrastructure after also having bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

Kenya loses hosting rights to 2018 African Nations Championship

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ACCRA, Ghana (AP) Kenya has been stripped of the right to host the 2018 African Nations Championship.

The Confederation of Africa Football cited “accumulated delays” in Kenya’s preparations for the tournament, which is the continental championship for players playing in their home leagues.

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CAF made the decision to take the tournament away from Kenya at an executive committee meeting in Accra, Ghana, on Saturday and opened the bidding process for a new host on Sunday. CAF says applications must be received by next Sunday and the new host will be announced in just over two weeks.

The African Nations Championship is scheduled to be played from Jan. 12-Feb. 4.

Kenya’s preparations for the 16-team tournament were already troubled before August when its presidential elections were nullified and a re-vote was ordered. That re-vote is scheduled for next month, and the political instability has meant preparations for the soccer tournament have been undermined.

CAF also says it is opening a tender process to recruit an audit firm to examine Cameroon’s preparations for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, Africa’s top soccer event.

Like Kenya, Cameroon’s readiness to host the Cup of Nations has been under scrutiny. CAF says it needs to examine the state of Cameroon’s “infrastructure to host the tournament,” with the 2019 Cup of Nations the first to be expanded from 16 to 24 teams.

Wanyama confirms Southampton exit; he’ll play in Champions League this year

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Victor Wanyama‘s time at Southampton served its purpose: get the 42-times-capped Kenyan international to the top of the Premier League and back into the UEFA Champions League, where he starred during his two seasons at Celtic.

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So where’s the 24-year-old midfield destroyer headed? Tottenham Hotspur, who will reportedly pay a fee just under $16 million. Wanyama himself was quoted on Saturday as confirming he’ll be leaving St. Mary’s Stadium this summer — quotes from African football website Soka25east.com:

“It’s always a tough moment leaving a club that you are so much used to their tradition and fans, but again it’s always the dream of any footballer to play at the very top level like the Champions League.

“I will definitely miss the awesome Southampton fans who always showed me love and I know they will fully understand my decision.”

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It was now-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino who brought Wanyama to Southampton in the summer of 2013, with the Argentine leaving for north London a year later. The two will now link back up at White Hart Lane, where midfield depth was and remains a clear concern.

Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele started 37 and 27 of 38 league games last season, respectively, with Ryan Mason forced into 22 appearances (eight starts) of his own when Dembele was unavailable through injuries and suspension (he’s banned for the first four games of the 2016-17 season). $16 million is a fee Spurs will be happy to pay in order to properly deputize Dier and Dembele, and keep Mason on the bench or out of the gameday squad altogether.

Kenya riot halts African Cup qualifier after disputed goal

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) Kenya could face sanctions for a riot that stopped play for more than 30 minutes on Sunday and forced police to fire tear gas into the stands in an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Guinea Bissau.

Kenyan fans threw stones and other missiles at the Guinea Bissau bench and at the fourth official on the sidelines, following a disputed goal for the visitors. Guinea Bissau won 1-0 to give Kenya little chance of qualifying for next year’s African Cup.

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The trouble started when Zimbabwean referee Norman Matemela awarded the winning goal to Guinea Bissau in the 81st minute despite protests from Kenya players that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

Also Sunday, the Confederation of African Football fined Chad $20,000 after it withdrew midway through the final qualifying stage.