Africa Cup of Nations expanded

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The next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in June and July 2019 and feature eight extra teams, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced.

CAF said on Friday (AEST) after a meeting of its executive committee that the tournament will expand for the first time since 1996 and be switched from its usual slot in January and February.

The move will result in AFCON no longer clashing with the middle of the European season, meaning clubs will not have to cope without African players who are called up for the tournament.

AFCON will also be held exclusively in Africa and feature only nations from the continent after suggestions CAF could host the tournament elsewhere and invite non-African teams to compete.

Cameroon, the holder of the AFCON title after beating Egypt in February's final, will host the next finals in 2019, with 24 nations to be included in the competition for the first time.

An inspection will be conducted in early September to ensure Cameroon is on track to hold the tournament. Cameroon's sports minister Pierre Ismael Bidoung has this week denied reports the country is falling behind with preparations as hosts.