Coronavirus: CAF Postpones Nigeria, Sierra Leone AFCON Qualifiers

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FIFA Women U20 World Cup qualifiers too

The Confederation of African Football has postponed the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers between Nigeria and Sierra Leone earlier scheduled to hold on March 27 and March 31.

Also postponed is the FIFA U20 World Cup qualifiers as well as the women AFCON 2020 qualifiers.

The continent’s football regulator decided to postpone all the AFCON qualifiers scheduled from March 25-31 as a precautionary measure due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Though only a few cases have been reported in Africa, CAF argued that several players who were supposed to play in the qualifiers ply their trades in countries severely affected by the virus and several clubs have refused to release their players to African Federations.

Several African governments have taken strong restrictions on travels: lock down, quarantine for people coming from countries affected by the virus.

“As CAF’s top priority remains the health and safety of our stakeholders (players, officials, sponsors, broadcasters, employees), we have been monitoring closely, together with our Medical Committee, the impact of the current coronavirus crisis,” CAF said in a statement.

“For the above reasons and after studying carefully the current situation, CAF has decided to postpone the Total Africa Cup of Nations 2021 qualifiers scheduled from 25-31 March 2020.

“We will share with you a proposal of a new calendar that will be communicated on a second step, according to the evolution of the coronavirus situation.”

The Super Eagles lead the way in Group L of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with six points after wins against Benin and Lesotho.

Before the postponement by CAF, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF has secured a chartered flight to convey invited players from their respective bases in Europe

President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick said they are in close communication with the country’s Ministry of Health and the Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) ahead of the Super Eagles’ upcoming fixtures against Sierra Leone.

Nigeria are scheduled to host the Leone Stars in Asaba for the first leg of their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying fixture on March 27 before travelling to Freetown for the return leg four days later.

The Covid-19 outbreak has left various competitions across the world on hold with several clubs undergoing self-isolation as a precautionary step to prevent the spread of the virus.

In reaction to global happenings, Pinnick revealed the federation has secured a chartered flight to fly invited Super Eagles players to Nigeria.

“We’ve already started to interface with the Federal Ministry of Health and the disease control unit and we are talking,” Pinnick told Brila FM.

“At the moment we have not monitored whether there is coronavirus in Sierra Leone. What we have done is we have already gotten a charter so we are going to reduce the number of people that will fly with the Super Eagles. We want to reduce as many contacts as possible.”

However, concerning the Africa Nations Championship, CHAN, slated for Cameroon, a delegation of Caf Medical Committee is scheduled to visit Cameroon from March 14-15 to access the prevention measures put in place by the Local Organising Committee after which a decision would be taken.