"All I can say is that it will be played somewhere," CAF President Issa Hayatou said in comments published Wednesday by the African soccer body from an interview with television station France 24.
Hayatou offered no clarity on the new host for the continent's top tournament with only two months to go until kickoff. But he did say it would go ahead as planned in January and February.
Morocco was dumped as host and thrown out of the 2015 African Cup on Tuesday after insisting it should be delayed over fears of the spread of Ebola. The CAF president said "it was absolutely necessary to end this standoff" with Morocco by stripping it of hosting rights.
CAF had "a few requests" from African federations to step in for Morocco, Hayatou said in the France 24 interview, which was originally broadcast Tuesday night. However, CAF still had to fully investigate the options.
"We have not had the time to get in touch with these federations to try to define the contours of the organization," Hayatou said, according to the interview transcript released by CAF. "Therefore, I cannot tell you where it will be played. All I can tell you is that it will take place."
Hayatou added: "Wait for two or three days."
Nigeria, Angola and Gabon have been mentioned as possible stand-in hosts, while South Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Ghana and Algeria have all seemingly ruled themselves out. No country has yet said publicly it wants to host the tournament at short notice.
Hayatou did say that delaying the tournament — as Morocco had requested — would have hurt CAF's relationship with its sponsors, while some of Africa's top players may not have been released by their European clubs to play in a re-scheduled tournament.
That would have been like signing a "death warrant" for African football, Hayatou said.
"Once you postpone this event, it will open the door for everybody to ask for a delay of any competition and we will no longer be credible and cannot organize anything," he said. "We will hurt our sponsors and partners ... That is what I told the Moroccans. We cannot sign our death warrant, because if we postpone this event, it will be very deadly for African football."
Hayatou's comments underlined CAF's most pressing reason for keeping the African Cup to the planned dates of Jan. 17-Feb. 8: a delay would affect the money-earning potential of its main tournament and source of revenue.Suggest a correction