Former DR Congo defender Gabriel Zakuani believes it will be hard for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations to be held given the current Coronavirus pandemic that has seen many sports events cancelled or postponed.
The tournament is due to happen in Cameroon in January/February and with just six months left, four rounds of qualifiers remain to determine the finalists.
“I think realistically we have to write it off. It’s not going to happen. I can’t see it happening,” Zakuani told the BBC World Service’s Newsday programme.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of friends from Africa and they’ve said the same thing. They just can’t see it being ready in time. There’s literally no time. The pressure to get the domestic leagues going is also a problem.
“So there’s the domestic leagues, you’ve got to get the training camp in, you’ve got to select squads – there’s too much to get done before the January/February period. So I can’t see it happening.”
The defender who earned 30 caps for the Leopards advises Caf to make a decision as early as possible for players to relax.
“I would be expecting an announcement soon and Caf really do have to get it out there and just let the players relax. A lot of the players have a lot of pressure at the moment with their club teams – being uncertain because of Covid-19 – and then not knowing about the Africa Cup of Nations. There’s too much going on.”
He also weighed on the current leagues that are set to resume soon although some countries have already made decisions to cancel their seasons.
“Football is a contact sport – there’s no way you can stay two metres away. So it’s a tough one. I feel the authorities are under a lot of pressure from supporters. Everyone wants to see it [football] back on but we need to put the brakes on and make sure that it’s safe when the players get onto the pitch.”
Zakuani joins Algerian midfielder Adlane Guedioura and Senegal FA President Augustine Senghor who also believe the 2021 Afcon shouldn’t happen.