Tension as holders Morocco withdraw from CHAN in Algeria

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Morocco has chose to partake in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) despite earlier proclaiming their withdrawal from the tournament due to the Algerian airspace blockade of Moroccan aircraft, proclaimed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The Moroccan national team will travel to Algeria tomorrow to participate in the CHAN,” the ministry said on Thursday.

The competition kicked off in style on Friday.

Morocco’s FRMF football federation said in a statement earlier Thursday that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had informed it last month that Algeria had issued “an authorization in principle” for the flight.

But just 24 hours before the start of the tournament, the FRMF said it “notes with regret that the definitive authorization for the flight from Rabat to Constantine has unfortunately not been confirmed.”

Algeria closed its airspace to all Moroccan flights in September 2021, the month after it cut off diplomatic ties with its rival, accusing it of “hostile acts”.

That was the latest escalation in a long-running rivalry fuelled by the Western Sahara dispute and relations with Israel.

The Moroccan team, which made history last month by becoming the first African or Arab team ever to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup, have won the past two African Nations Championships.

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