African Nations Cup qualifiers to go ahead without fans

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has said that there will be little allowance in this month’s African Cup of Nations qualifiers for teams potentially hit by COVID-19 infections or restrictions on travel.

All games will go ahead as the qualifying campaign for the 2022 finals in Cameroon resumes after a year-long hiatus despite caution expressed by coaches who fear being unable to field full strength sides because of potential player withdrawals.

Restrictions on players travelling from clubs in Europe or facing quarantine when they return from Africa, have seen several national team coaches calling for a postponement.

They fear being without key players because of increasing COVID-19 restrictions in Europe.

But CAF said the qualifiers will be played, albeit without fans unless permission is obtained from African soccer’s governing body by the home government.

CAF has decided matches must go ahead if the team has at least 11 players, including a goalkeeper, and four substitutes. If a team does not have the minimum number of players required, they will be considered to have lost the match 2-0.

CAF also said that if a team cannot travel “due to any travel or other restriction relating to COVID-19” they will be considered to have lost the match 2-0.

The Cup of Nations qualifiers were last played in November 2019. This month’s series of two games for each of the 48 countries involved will be followed by two more rounds in March.

The top two countries in each of the 12 groups qualify for the finals, which have been postponed by a year to early 2022. Reuters.

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