How we lost out on hosting AFCON 2017

Wednesday 8th April , 2015 2:59 pm
Former Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga
Former Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga

Citi Sports editor Nathan Quao examines the decision of CAF to award the 2017 AFCON to Gabon and wonders why Ghana lost out.


So, we all now know Gabon will host the AFCON 2017. Congrats to them.

CAF decided that we would going back to the region just two years after the tournament was played in Equatorial Guinea and it seems the general consensus is that Mr. Issa Hayatou and his elders were right.

Of course, if you are Gabonese, that is. If you are Algerian, you will not be too happy because since 1990, the Desert Foxes have not featured in the continent’s topmost tournament at home and they were really looking forward to giving the continent a huge party.

I guess they will have to wait for another time.

I have said earlier that a lot of people in Ghana seem pleased with the tournament going to Gabon but has anyone thought of how a bidding team that had Abedi Pele, Nana Brew Butler and former Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga could not convince CAF officials to give Ghana the AFCON after the nation hosted it back in 2008?

It lacked the needed umph!

The bidding may have looked heavy on star names but knowing the lobbying and cajoling the bid needed, it was interesting to note that GFA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi was not really brought on board to help matters.

Have a look at the names of members of the bidding committee:

Ernest Thompson (Chairman), Abedi Ayew Pele, (vice-chairman), Fred Crentsil, Randy Abbey, Herbert Mensah (administrator and businessman), Nyaho Nyaho Tamakloe, Lepowura Nuru Deen Jawula, and Nana Sam Brew Butler (all former Ghana Football Association chairmen), Alex Mould (CEO of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation), Rex Danquah, and Abdulai Yakubu, chief director in the ministry of Youth and Sports.

The ambassadors are ex-Black Stars players Stephen Leroy Appiah, Tony Yeboah, Tony Baffoe, Ibrahim Sunday, Abdul Razak, and former WBC Featherweight champion Azumah Nelson.

Missing name: Kwesi Nyantakyi

GFA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi

GFA boss Kwesi Nyantakyi

It may not hit you quickly but Mr. Nyantakyi serves on the CAF Executive Committee as West Africa Zone B President. That can only mean that had Mr. Nyantakyi been brought in fully, the bid could have had better traction.

We may not make a lot of noise about it but our FA boss is really liked at CAF and that was a great tool to use for a bid. He tried to get the team to meet CAF officials on Sunday but it seems all these things did not work.

CAF frown

Remember how we all went up in arms when we sniffed that the former Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga hinted that Ghana wanted to host the 2015 AFCON after Morocco pulled out due to the Ebola scare?

We got our people to back off quietly but the officials at CAF were not pleased one bit.

They became upset that their tournament was being hit hard by the Ghanaian populace who were simply crying out because they did not want to saddled with the burden of the Ebola virus.

A very genuine concern on the part of Ghanaian fans was found to be a little “unnice” by CAF officials and it seems the pain of the bad rub did not die down.

CAF politics

The lobbying, the backroom talk, the nudging and proding. Nothing selection process is complete without these elements and the decision on the hosts of AFCON 2017 was no different.

With a body like CAF where who you support is highly important, the one who had done something to help the organisation at one time or the other would get the “candy” from Papa Hayatou and his elders.

What then did Gabon do? Simple, they were there to support Equatorial Guinea when they had to scramble themselves into shape for the 2015 AFCON.

Officials from Gabon boasted about the money, tools and equipment they gave their neighbours and so, why would they not get the 2017 AFCON?

That tournament saved CAF’s hide so an appropriate “Thank You” was in order.


Gabon’s bid also relied on the 2012 experience they gave visitors. Some of my colleague reporters and journalists still talk about how much fun they had back then.

I am sure officials also had a ball there. Gabon’s just reminded everybody of that time. The trick worked.

Ghana could only show its great bidding team while Algeria said they were ready despite calls from other nations that the skirmishes in Libya made their country not too safe.

I hope our people have understood the lessons so that next time, we will be smiling (when we are actually ready to host the tournament.)

Felicitations, Gabon.



Follow Nathan on Twitter: @nathan_quao