CAPE TOWN - Football fans across Africa will miss out on watching their national teams play at home in the upcoming round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers because nearly half of participating countries lack approved stadiums.

This follows a move by the Confederation of African Football to bar sites which fail to meet its standards from hosting international matches. Countries forced to play in neutral venues include Kenya, one of the host countries of the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Benin, Namibia, Congo, and Madagascar.

Morocco has seized the opportunity to build stronger ties with African countries by offering its facilities for use by their teams, with several matches to be played in the North African nation.

On top of their own World Cup qualifier against Zambia in Agadir on Friday, a further eight will be hosted over the next week in the north African kingdom.

The push to improve sports facilities in Africa has seen countries turn to China in recent years, with the East Asian nation involved in the construction of stadiums used for past AFCON editions, including Cote d’Ivoire in 2024, Gabon in 2017, and Equatorial Guinea in 2015.

It is currently leading the development of a new stadium in Kenya for AFCON 2027 and the renovation of existing facilities.