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Egypt in surprise bid to be new African Cup host

Portugal v Egypt - International Friendly

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 23: #10 Mohamed Salah of Egypt warms up before the International Friendly between Portugal and Egypt at the Letzigrund Stadium on March 23, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Robert Hradil/Getty Images)

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CAIRO (AP) The Egyptian Football Association says it has submitted a bid to replace Cameroon as next year’s African Cup of Nations host, a surprise pitch by the North African country which wasn’t initially thought of as a contender.

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Egypt’s bid, announced Thursday to meet Friday’s deadline, came after Morocco said this week it wouldn’t put itself forward as a candidate. Morocco had been considered the front-runner after being a candidate to host the 2026 World Cup. It lost out in that race to a joint United States-Mexico-Canada bid.

The Confederation of African Football has given countries until the end of Friday to submit bids for the 2019 African Cup, which was taken away from Cameroon last month because of poor preparations and a violent insurgency in parts of that country. CAF wants a new host in place by Dec. 31, with the tournament in June and July looming.

South Africa is another possible stand-in host, but the South African Football Association hasn’t confirmed it will bid and says it needs government approval before any decision.