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Africa Football Chief Open to Moving Cup of Nations to Mid-Year

FILE - New president of the African soccer confederation Ahmad of Madagascar, speaks at a press conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

The new head of Africa's chief football (soccer) Federation says he is open to moving the Africa Cup of Nations to mid-year and making other changes to the biennial tournament.

In an exclusive interview with VOA's French to Africa service, Ahmad Ahmad said African football "must evolve" in accordance with its member countries' interests.

"If the majority favors moving the calendar, changing the formula or increasing the number of teams, I'm open to that," Ahmad said. "In some parts of the continent, especially in the South and in Madagascar, you cannot play in January or February because of the torrential rains, but, other parts of the continent do not have this problem."

The tournament, one of Africa's biggest sporting events, usually takes place in January or February. Gabon hosted the 2017 tourney, which was won by Cameroon. The latter is due to host the next tournament in 2019.

Ahmad, who comes from Madagascar, was elected president of the Confederation of African Football last month, ending the 29-year reign of Cameroon's Issa Hayatou.

The new president said he does not plan to stay as long as his predecessor.

"I do not even know if I will do a second term, but three terms is impossible. I will not do it," Ahmad said.

Ahmad also said he backs an age limit for CAF presidents.

"I will be uncompromising to reintroduce an age limit," he said. "I wanted to go back to 65 years because I already see the fatigue of traveling in Africa; but, some are favorable at [an age limit of] 70. We must do things right."

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