African Nations Championship CHAN

The 2023 African Nations Championship, or CHAN for short, is being played in Algeria this January. The event is officially labeled as a 2022 event, but it was pushed by six months due to a scheduling backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tournament, which has been expanded to feature 18 national teams made up exclusively of domestic-based players, is held every two years, alternating years with the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). Despite the squad restriction, CHAN matches count as full internationals for player caps as well as in the calculation of the FIFA World Rankings.
Only 17 of the 18 teams that qualified for the 2023 event will be participating after two-time defending CHAN champions Morocco were not authorised to fly into Algeria. The issue stems from the tense relations and ongoing disputes between neighboring countries Morocco and Algeria which led to Algeria cutting diplomatic ties in 2021 and closing its airspace to Moroccan aircraft and air travel originating in the country.
Although the Moroccan team was at the Rabat airport as late as Friday, the green light to fly into Algeria was never granted and the team did not pursue other travel options that would have circumvented the travel ban. No word yet from the African Football Confederation (CAF) as to how the tournament will be reshuffled without the defending champs.
On January 14, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation also issued a statement in which it condemned “the malicious acts and abject maneuvers” at the CHAN opening match (Algeria vs. Libya), making note of racist chants circulated on social media aimed at Moroccans, as well as a “provocative and surreal speech” delivered by Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mandla Mandela, in which he called for the liberation of Western Sahara, the subject of an ongoing dispute between Morocco and Algeria. 


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