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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

CAF Postpones 2021 Africa Cup of Nations

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By Michael John Fofanah

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed the postponement of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and major changes for the current Champions League and Confederation Cup campaigns.

In the online CAF executive committee meeting on Tuesday, the leaders of the continent came to the decision for drastic changes in response to the coronavirus crisis on the continent.

Starting with AFCON 2021 in Cameroon, President Ahmed Ahmed confirmed the tournament will be moved to January 2022, while the African Nations Championship (CHAN) will be played out in January 2021.

For the club commitment in relation to the African Champions League and Confederation Cup, the semi-finals will no longer be contested over two-legs for home and away fixtures.

Raja Casablanca, Wydad Casablanca, Al Ahly and Zamalek will contest for a place in the final of the continent’s elite club competition in Cameroon in September, while the Confederation Cup will be hosted in Morocco.

In August 2014, the Sierra Leone FA cancelled all football matches in an effort to stop the spread of the 2014 Ebola virus epidemic in Sierra Leone, a week after the Liberian FA did the same. Sierra Leonean players playing outside Sierra Leone, such as Michael Lahoud playing in the United States, were discriminated against, with opposition players refusing to swap shirts, shake hands and allow them to certain places of the stadium just because they fear that they could be carrying the disease.

Sierra Leone’s golden period was during the 1990s, qualifying for both the 1994 and 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. However, they were forced to withdraw from the next two editions due to the Sierra Leone Civil War.

The Sierra Leonean national team wasn’t allowed to play home games and all players had to be foreign-based. In October 2015, Sierra Leone suffered a surprise defeat to Chad in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with their home game having to be played in Nigeria. One year later, Sierra Leone very nearly qualified for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, finishing just one point behind Group I winners Ivory Coast.

One year later, Sierra Leone very nearly qualified for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, finishing just one point behind Group I winners Ivory Coast. On 5 October 2018, the Sierra Leone Football Association was suspended by FIFA and the Leone Stars were excluded from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification.

2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification tournament was one of the 12 groups to decide the teams which qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals tournament. The group consisted of four teams: Ghana, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Kenya , before Sierra Leone’s disqualification.

The 2020 Women’s AFCON has also been scrapped this year by the CAF decision-makers in favour of the launch of the Women’s Champions League in 2021.

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