The dates for this year’s African Nations Cup finals in Egypt have been moved back a week, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Monday, reportedly to allow players to rest after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is scheduled to begin on the evening of May 5 and will end around June 4. Observers fast during daylight hours over this period, which can have an effect on the performance of athletes.
The expanded 24-team tournament will now kick-off on June 21 and run through to the final on July 19.
A meeting of the CAF Emergency Committee took the decision on Saturday, with the governing body confirming the shift in a circular sent to its member associations.
According to media reports, a request was made for the move by a number of mainly Muslim North African nations, including Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, who have all already sealed qualification.
CAF also confirmed that the draw for the first round pool stage will take place in Cairo on April 12.
Fourteen countries have already booked a finals berth, including first time participants Madagascar and Mauritania, with the remaining 10 places to be decided when the qualification campaign concludes in March.