CAF reschedules AFCON 2021 qualifier between Sierra Leone, Benin to June

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CAIRO, EGYPT - JUNE 06: Confederation of African Football (CAF) building is seen in Cairo, Egypt on June 06, 2019. It is reported that, President of the Confederation of African Football, Ahmed Ahmed was detained in France's capital Paris, over allegation of corruption. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Sierra Leone will play Benin in June in a match which will determine the final team to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

CAF’s Appeal Body made a decision on the matter after Benin filed a complaint over a COVID-19-related dispute which forced the Group L match not to take place last month.

FILE PHOTO: Confederation of African Football (CAF) building is seen in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

“The Appeal Body upheld the decision of the Organizing Committee to postpone the fixture to the June 2021 International window,” CAF said in a statement.

CAF, however, did not state the specific date on which the match would take place.

Benin declined to play their match in protest against local authorities declaring at least five of their players tested positive for COVID-19.

Benin refused to leave the team bus in Freetown after being informed less than an hour to kick off in a handwritten note that the players who tested positive were not able to play. According to CAF, Benin had been promised that they would receive the result at least four hours before the beginning of the game.

CAF faulted Sierra Leone for failing to respect its obligations regarding the COVID-19 protocol, especially with regard to a provision that test results should be available two hours before a team leaves for the stadium.

CAF also dismissed an appeal by Sierra Leone that Benin should have been considered to have lost the match on account of forfeiting the chance to play.

“…the exception of the Organizing Committee’s decision is enshrined in the COVID-19 Guideline when determining the results of the match that cannot be played as such, “in exceptional circumstances, the organizing committee will be consulted for a final decision concerning the match”. ”Therefore it is impossible to consider Benin’s team as to have lost the match by forfeit as the match was postponed by the Organizing Committee,” CAF noted.

Benin only requires a point to qualify for the tournament while Sierra Leone needs a win.

African football has been hit by accusations of authorities of home teams tampering with COVID-19 results in both continental club and national matches.

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