The winner of this year’s African Cup of Nations will not qualify automatically for the next tournament, the Confederation Africaine de Football announced yesterday.

Only the hosts will now avoid the qualifying stages of the tournament, as is the case for the World Cup and European Championships, the CAF confirmed at a meeting in Tunis.

The official CAF website revealed the news: “From 2006, only the host country is automatically qualified to play in the African Cup of Nations finals. The 2004 title holders will go through the preliminaries.”