CAIRO: European clubs are hoping that Morocco’s football federation will succeed in persuading the African confederation to approve its proposal to stage the 2025 finals in the summer and not in the usual January/February s;lot.

CAF president Patrice Motsepele refused to confirm a date switch after a competitions official told local media that an “agreement in principle” had been found for the CAN “to be held during the summer, in July and August” 2025.

The finals, if switched would follow the expanded FIFA Club World Cup which is scheduled from June 15 to July 13, in the United States. This would be the second time that the competition will be played during the summer after 2019 in Egypt.

The rainy season in Cameroon (2021) and Ivory Coast (2023) then persuaded CAF to return to winter.

The draw for the preliminary round of the qualifiers for next year’s tournament was conducted in Cairo barely a week after the conclusion of the finals in the Ivory Coast won by the hosts.

The bottom eight ranked entrants have been drawn into four two-legged knockout ties to be played between March 20-26. Somalia were the lowest ranked team and drawn against Eswatini, while Sao Tome e Principe take on South Sudan.

The other two fixtures are between Chad and Mauritius while Djibouti play Liberia.

Both Liberia and Mauritius have previously qualified for the Cup of Nations finals.

The winners of the four preliminary round ties advance to the group stage of the qualifiers, joining 44 other countries.

The 48 teams will be drawn into 12 groups of four with the top two in each group qualifying for the finals in Morocco.

Morocco will also participate despite qualifying automatically as hosts, so only one other country will qualify from their group.