Staff, 2023-01-12 11:12:01,
The biennial African Nations Championship (CHAN) – one of the most unique international competitions in world football – kicks off in Algeria on 13 January.
Not to be confused with the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) other flagship pan-African tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations, countries competing in the CHAN can only select players who ply their trade in their own domestic leagues.
That means, for example, that Algeria can’t solicit the services of Riyad Mahrez and Senegal won’t be able to call upon Sadio Mane.
More on that shortly. But first, the political row that has been the elephant in the room in the build up to the tournament: why have Morocco pulled out?
Holders won’t take flight
Morocco are the two-time defending champions, but the North Africans will not make it a hat-trick after the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) decided to withdraw – just one day before the opening ceremony.
To make sense of that last-minute decision, you need to understand the political backdrop.
Relations between Morocco and Algeria have been strained for many decades – due largely to the twists and turns of several different disputes over territory – but in August 2021, when Algeria broke off diplomatic ties entirely, it also closed its airspace to Moroccan aircraft.
Last month, on 27 December, FRMF…
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