AFCON 2025 gets summer dates in Morocco

The 35th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in the summer of 2025 following details of an agreement that was reached in principle between the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the host country Morocco. According to a CAF official, the competition will be played in July and August next year.

The AFCON 2025 tournament will be hosted by Morocco across six cities that includes Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, Agadir, Marrakesh, and Fez.

During the recently concluded AFCON competition in Ivory Coast, CAF president Patrice Motsepe couldn't ascertain the dates for the next edition while he was addressing the media with the organisers left with little time to stage the qualifiers.

The initial dates for the competition was planned for January through February of 2025 but with the likely agreed date, it will be held after the conclusion of FIFA's first major 32-team Club World Cup which will be held from June 15 to July 13 in the United States.

The AFCON competition will still feature 24 teams with 23 of the teams going through the qualification series outside of the host nation. The top two teams and the four best-ranked third-placed teams from the six initial groups will advance to the round of 16, with quarter-finals, semi-finals, a match for third place and the final to follow.

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CAF reveals likely dates for AFCON 2025

On Monday, a member of the CAF competitions committee speaking on condition of anonymity to AFP, said that there was “an agreement in principle between CAF and the Moroccan Football Federation for the AFCON to be held during the summer, more precisely in ‘July and August' 2025.

“This agreement was found with the support of FIFA after talks that began several months ago and which intensified during the last edition which finished this month in Ivory Coast.

“The dates currently proposed are July 20-August 17, 2025,” the source revealed.

The last two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations were both pushed back from the original dates predominantly over weather concerns amidst other factors and were played between January and February of 2022 and 2024 in Cameroon and Ivory Coast respectively.

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When will the qualifiers for Morocco 2025 kick off?

The qualifying series for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations will begin with the preliminary rounds scheduled for next month. Eight lowest ranked teams according to the FIFA rankings, namely Somalia, Djibouti, Sao Tome, Chad, Mauritius, South Sudan, Liberia and Eswatini will engage in home and away ties between March 20 and March 26 to determine the final four places in the competition.

During this stage of the qualifiers, the four lowest ranked nations will play at home first, with the return leg to be hosted by the higher ranked opposing nation.

The preliminary round draw results that was held on Tuesday in Cairo will feature:

Somalia vs Eswatini

Sao Tome e Principe vs South Sudan

Chad vs Mauritius

Djibouti vs Liberia

The four teams will then join 44 other African nations in the qualifying group stages, with the draw set to be confirmed at a later date. 

After the qualifiers are concluded, a main draw for the competition itself will be held with the 24 qualified teams including the host nation allocated to four pots based on the latest FIFA rankings. The teams will then be drawn in six groups of four.

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AFCON 2025 dates: A welcome relief for the club sides, not the players

With the proposed dates, it will come as a welcome development for the club sides especially in Europe since it would be taking place in the summer but it might have an adverse effect on players especially considering that has bulk of its players domiciled in Europe. 

It means players will get into the national team assignments immediately after the regular season and head straight back into pre-season or most likely league actions immediately after the competition.

The 2027 Africa Cup of Nations which will be the 36th edition will be jointly hosted by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

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Rotimi Akindele

Rotimi Akindele is a Sports Journalist with almost two decades' experience. He is a TV and radio host, commentator and writer who has covered major sporting events across the globe. Akindele's sports content has been listened to and read by a global audience. He is a well-known figure within Nigeria and the African football scene.