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Egypt favourites to host 2006 African Nations Cup

© Reuters 2002

CAIRO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Egypt are tipped to be named on Thursday as hosts of the 2006 African Nations Cup, which is the continent's qualifying tournament for the FIFA World Cup" finals to be held in Germany later that year.

Egypt head a list of four countries bidding to host the tournament but are expected to win ahead of Algeria and the Ivory Coast, where there is political uncertainty, and Libya, who lack facilities.

The executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will hear 30-minute submissions from the four candidate countries on Thursday before voting on a final decision.

Egypt have proposed 12 different venues for the tournament but Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Ismailia are the most likely venues.

Egypt have hosted the final three times before, the last time in 1986. Algeria, who hosted the event in 1990, have proposed six venues for the 16-team tournament - the capital Algiers, Annaba, Blida, Constantine, Oran and Tlemcen.

But CAF insiders have said the on-going civil strike in the north African country was likely to count against them. The same holds for the Ivory Coast, which last month suffered a military rebellion.

Roger Ouegnin, in Cairo at the head of the Ivorian bid, agreed that the situation in his country was "very difficult" but said he was confident of a recovery once the military uprising had ended.

The Ivorians have proposed seven venues - Abengourou, Abidjan, Gagnoa, Korhogo, San Pedro, Yamoussoukro and Bouake, which government forces recaptured from rebels just two weeks ago.

Few details were available on Libya's bid but the maverick state previously hosted the Nations Cup in 1992 when the final in Tripoli was played on artificial turf.

Libyan football has taken a high profile recently under Saad Gaddafi, the son of the country's ruler, who has played for the country's national team. He owns a major club and is also president of the football association.

The 2006 finals will be used for the first time as qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup" after a decision taken at the CAF Congress in Bamako in January.

Africa has five places at the 2006 FIFA World Cup" finals with presumably the four semi-finalists at the 2006 Nations Cup qualifying. But CAF has yet to come up with a formula to determine the fifth place.

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