Cape Town - President of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Issa Hayatou says he is yet to see the official report, but is confident that Fifa have decided to classify the African Nations Championship (Chan) as an A-level tournament, adding that the status of the competition would serve as additional incentive for participating teams.
"I have not seen the letter yet, but all the reports made to me by the GS (General-Secretary Hisham-El Amrani) and even the Vice-President of Caf Almamy Kabele Camara attest that FIFA has issued a letter that Chan is already recognised as an A-level competition," Hayatou said after arriving in Cape Town for the opening of the third edition of the Chan competition on Saturday.
"I will be seeing the letter today and I can already confirm that it is done because I trust my collaborators." FIFA had previously indicated that world ranking points would not be awarded for the continental event, but successful talks between FIFA and Caf resulted in the world soccer body making an about turn on their decision.
With ranking points up for grabs, teams would be further motivated to win the event, Hayatou added, while increasing the tournament's reputation on the global stage.
"This competition was created to emulate African youth because most of the player who take part in the Africa Cup of Nations are foreign based players," Hayatou, speaking through an interpreter said.
"We decided to create this competition to enable those who are locally-based, to be proud to play at home and have a space where they can improve.
"At the level of the executive committee (of Caf), we are quite sure that in 10 years time, the Chan will be as big as the Africa Cup of Nations." National teams have to qualify for the Chan spectacle, and may only feature players active in their local leagues.
Players who play abroad, regardless of where, even in Africa, do not qualify to take part in the competition, which was first held in 2009.
Hayatou concluded by wishing the 16 participants a successful tournament.
"I wish good luck to all the teams playing in the tournament."