Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Tournament to kick off amidst state of unrest in Egypt, organisers assure proper security

Cairo:  The Africa Cup of Nations is set to kick off in Egypt on Friday against a backdrop of terror attacks, days after the death of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. It will be the fifth time that Egypt has hosted the regional tournament, which has expanded this year to include 24 teams.

Africa Cup of Nations organisers said on Tuesday the death of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi would have no impact on the security situation in Egypt and the tournament would go ahead.

Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president who was overthrown after a turbulent year in power, collapsed and "died as he attended a hearing" over alleged collaboration with foreign powers and militant groups, the prosecutor general's office said. He was buried Tuesday in Cairo.

 Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Tournament to kick off amidst state of unrest in Egypt, organisers assure proper security

Cameroon are the defending champions for the Africa Cup of Nations. Reuters

Cairo last welcomed African teams in 2006, before the country's political landscape was rocked by the Arab Spring of 2011. A source within the African Confederation of Football (CAF), speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was 'no reason' that the tournament would be cancelled or postponed as a result of Morsi's sudden death on Monday.

Egypt plays Zimbabwe in the opening match in Cairo on Friday. Authorities are confident the infrastructure is in place to host the continent's largest football contest, but they are on high alert after attacks on tourists near the pyramids and an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

A roadside bomb near the pyramids last month left 17 people wounded, just months after a similar attack in December killed three Vietnamese holidaymakers and an Egyptian tour guide.

The interior ministry in June announced extra security forces would be deployed to maintain 'public order' for the competition.

Egyptians were expected to be a major driver of the tournament's reach, but local fans have been up in arms over the cost of watching a game, either in stadiums or on television.

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Updated Date: Jun 18, 2019 20:05:06 IST