Thursday, January 28, 2021

March Afcon Qualifiers in Jeopardy as Nations Wary over Coronavirus

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By Sulayman Bah

It’s unclear what becomes of this March’s Cup of Nations qualifiers with participating nations wary over the fast-spreading Coronavirus, Foroyaa Sport understands.

Kenya have already asked Africa’s football governing body, Caf, consider putting off their scheduled match with Comoros, lodging a request to that effect.

The virus is yet to affect African countries that much with very few cases registered but owing to the calamity registered elsewhere such as China and Italy, African countries with expatriate players in Europe are having a second thought about playing this month’s qualifications including Gambia.

Scorpions’ gaffer Tom Saintfiet sounded concerned yesterday ahead of the Gabon encounter.

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Earlier this week, Caf insists it’s not ‘extremely worried’ of the trending deadly coronavirus as Gambia’s meeting with Gabon nears.

Coronavirus is sweeping through regions in the world with the World Health Organisation yet to tag the epidemic a pandemic.

Nigeria is one of the countries in the continent to have had a case –patient of whom as of this week was on the cusp of being released having recovered.

Neighbouring country Senegal are one of latest to have cases with theirs spiking to four as of last weekend. Considering Gambia share borders with Senegal, there have been genuine concerns and mechanisms put in place to prevent any cases surfacing.

Owing to the rapid nature with which the virus spreads, there have been some calls for Caf to consider putting off its Africa Cup of Nations qualifications which Gambia is a big part of.

Spoken to last week, Gambia Football federation’s Ebou Faye said they ‘re awaiting on directives from caf over the Scorpions game.

And aware of this, CAF over the weekend, issued a communiqué reassuring the football family of its commitment towards protecting ‘actors of the game.’

‘We are not extremely worried but remain vigilant with regards to future matches and tournaments such as the CAF Champions League, CAF Confederation Cup and the final tournament of the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) scheduled to take place in Cameroon from 4-25 April 2020.

‘The team (Caf medical committee) is in touch with the countries organizing these matches and reports in due time on updates to the Executive Committee.

‘If the situation (of the Corona Virus) requires agreement with the countries concerned, matches behind closed doors, postponements or even cancellations are envisaged. In the meantime, an advisory to the actors of the game is being promulgated in conformity with guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO),’ part of the dispatch from Caf read.

Gambia face Gabon this month March 26th before playing the return-leg three days on.

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