Zimbabwe submits bid to host 2017 African Cup

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe has formally submitted a bid to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations, the first attempt by the troubled country to host a major sports event since its contentious co-hosting of the cricket World Cup over a decade ago.

The Zimbabwe Football Association said it lodged the African Cup bid papers on Monday at the Confederation of African Football headquarters in Cairo to meet Tuesday's deadline.

"We are confident the document is sound enough to persuade the continental mother body to grant Zimbabwe the right to host," ZIFA spokesman Xolisani Gwesela said.

He said ZIFA was not distracted by "the negativity and pessimism from other quarters."

There are serious doubts over Zimbabwe's ability to host the 16-team event. The southern African country is experiencing dire economic problems, resulting in the complete collapse of its currency and the adoption of the U.S. dollar in its place.

The regime of longtime President Robert Mugabe has also been accused of human rights abuses.

Zimbabwe's co-hosting of cricket's world showpiece in 2003 resulted in England's team boycotting games there, while some Zimbabwe players used the opportunity to protest against Mugabe's regime.

An all-African football tournament would likely be less politically charged, but Zimbabwe faces a big challenge to convince CAF that it has the infrastructure -- it needs at least four suitable stadiums -- to host the Cup of Nations.

CAF already had to re-start the bidding process for the 2017 continental championship after conflict-torn Libya withdrew as host because of security and organizational concerns.

Ethiopia has stated its intention to bid for 2017, while Algeria, Kenya, Ghana and Mali have expressed interest. Zimbabwe submitted a solo bid after failing to agree on joint bids with Zambia and Botswana.

Zimbabwe's sports minister said this month that it might seek financial help from initial host Libya.

The next Cup of Nations will be in Morocco in January and February. Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Guinea will host in 2019, 2021 and 2023 respectively.