Equatorial Guinea to host 2015 African Cup

torial Guinea replaced Morocco after asking for the tournament to be delayed over Ebola fears

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Equatorial Guinea was chosen Friday to host the 2015 African Cup of Nations, a decision that immediately stirred controversy because the country’s national team was invited to participate despite being disqualified from the qualifying competition for cheating.

Equatorial Guinea replaced Morocco, which was stripped of hosting rights after asking for the tournament to be delayed over Ebola fears.

The Equatorial Guinea team, which was sanctioned in July for fielding an ineligible player, automatically qualifies as the new host, the Confederation of African Football said.

Equatorial Guinea, which co-hosted the tournament with Gabon in 2012, will hold the tournament on the planned dates of Jan. 17-Feb. 8. The agreement was struck after a meeting between African football leader Issa Hayatou and Equatorial Guinea President Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue on Friday.

Four cities will be used for the tournament: Malabo, Bata, Mongomo and Ebebiyin.

Malabo, the capital, and Bata hosted games when the oil-rich central African nation shared the 16-team tournament with Gabon two years ago.

CAF also announced the final draw for the tournament will take place in Malabo on Dec. 3.

Morocco was stripped of hosting rights on Tuesday after sticking by its request to delay the tournament until 2016 because of fears over the spread of Ebola.

CAF did not announce how many candidates it was considering as replacements, but said “a few” African countries had shown interest in stepping in for Morocco.

Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup, also said in a statement through its football federation that it was willing to help out if asked by CAF.

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