JOHANNESBURG: The Confederation of African Football named Johannesburg as the new host city for the rescheduled African Youth Championship on Tuesday after it was moved from conflict-hit Libya.
CAF said in a statement the eight-nation tournament will now run from April 17-May 1, a month later than initially planned.
The continent’s biennial under-20 championship was set to be staged by Libya for the first time, with the capital Tripoli and the now rebel-held Benghazi as the two host cities.
The move also means the Libyan team will miss the tournament and be replaced by South Africa’s under-20 team as the host nation. CAF said venues in Johannesburg would be named later.
The African football body announced in mid-March that the championship would be moved to South Africa, with the host city to be decided. Ghana had also been considered as a stand-in host by CAF.
South Africa replaces Libya in Group A alongside Mali, Lesotho and Egypt. Cameroon, Nigeria, Gambia and defending champion Ghana are in Group B, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the semifinals.
Those semifinalists will also represent Africa at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Colombia, which begins in late July.
Africa’s football calendar has been severely disrupted by political turmoil this year with national teams from Libya and Ivory Coast forced to play African Cup of Nations qualifiers in neutral venues because of violence in their home countries.
The African Champions League match between club sides JC Abidjan of Ivory Coast and Al Ittihad of Libya was postponed from Saturday with CAF trying to find a neutral venue for the last-32 tie.
Another Ivorian club, ASEC Mimosas, agreed to a one-off match in Harare to decide its tie with Zimbabwe’s Motor Action FC. Mimosas won on penalties.
African champion Egypt said their senior national team’s preparations in Cup of Nations qualifying have been hampered by the suspension of the country’s domestic league because of upheaval there that led to the ousting of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s under-20 squad chose to relocate to the United Arab Emirates last month to prepare for the African Youth Championship.
"The recent events in Egypt affected us just like they have affected all Egyptian (football) departments," team manager Diaa Al-Sayed said in an interview with CAF.
Libya has also been chosen as the host nation for the 2013 version of the African Cup of Nations, the continent’s biggest football tournament.