Ghana’s bid to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations has received support from some influential figures in the country.
The tournament was meant to be hosted by Libya, who had swapped their 2013 hosting rights with South Africa two years ago, but withdrew last week because of political instability.
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) opened applications for a new host for on Tuesday, with a deadline of September 30 being set.
A former Deputy Sports Minister says that Ghana can go ahead with its bid.
“In these situations, the bidding process is the first step and that must be accompanied with the proof that you have the infrastructure to host or you intend to build them for the competition.
“Thankfully, we already have what it takes to bid for the tournament. What remains is the kind of competition the other countries will put up in terms of their hosting proposals but if the Confederation of African Football (CAF) should give us the go-ahead to host, we should be ready for it,” OseiBonsuAmoah told Citi FM in Accra.
“I do not know what government will say because such a call cannot be made by the Sports Ministry alone but if government is in agreement the we are in pole position to contest any counter bids from other countries.”
Caf says that a key condition is that there are government guarantees as well as infrastructure considering the limited time left before kick-off of the tournament.
As has been widely reported in the global media, Ghana’s economy has had serious challenges especially in the last year, with rising inflation, unemployment, massive job cuts and a sharp devaluation of the national currency, the cedi.
But in reaction, a member of Ghana’s current government – Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Vincent OppongAsamoah – says the country is ready to go.
“If you hear people say all these things about hard economic conditions and you start to think where these people are coming from, or where were they when we hosted the tournament in 2008.
“The fact is we have never been broke as a country and never been rich too.
“If you travel around Africa and see some of these countries that have hosted the AFCON and see their conditions there you will realise that Ghana is a heaven in Africa and you will appreciate.
“We will start lobbying very soon because we are good at that as a nation,” he told Angel FM.
Kenya and East African neighbours Rwanda and Tanzania, have declared their interest and are also considering launching a joint bid.
Ghana’s interest was announced by Minister of Youth and Sports MahamaAyariga on Tuesday via his official Twitter account.
“I am happy to announce to you that, the President, His Excellency John DramaniMahama has given us the permission to bid for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations,” Ayariga said later to the media.
“We have his blessings and we are going to bid for the competition, because we have what it takes to win. We have the infrastructure in place, a good air travel system and a hospitable environment to host the rest of the continent,” he added.
Meanwhile, South Africa has not been ruled out, as they have been successful emergency hosts for Caf, dating back to 1996 when they replaced Kenya.