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Sierra Leone FA appeals as CAF reschedule disputed Leone Stars vs Benin AFCON qualifier

THE Sierra Leone Football Association has appealed the Confederation of African Football’s decision to reschedule the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the Leone Stars and Benin  Republic’s Squirrels.

The match was to have been held in Freetown on Tuesday but there was a standoff between the two teams that ultimately led to its cancellation.

Hosts Sierra Leone claimed that five Benin Republic players tested positive for Covid-19 and therefore could not be allowed to play, but the Beninoise rejected the results and insisted that the players had returned negative results from tests carried out in Cotonou before their departure for the match.

The impasse could not be resolved even after the two teams’ officials met with CAF officials, leaving the 24th and final spot in next year’s AFCON still vacant.

CAF announced on Wednesday afternoon that it would be rescheduling the match, a decision Sierra Leone kicked against.

“The CAF Organising Committee for the Africa Cup of Nations has decided to postpone the AFCON 2021 qualification match between Sierra Leone and Benin to the next FIFA international window in June 2021,” CAF stated.

“The match was scheduled to be played yesterday, 30 March 2021 in Freetown. The committee made this decision after reviewing official accounts of the incidents that stopped the match from taking place at the scheduled time.

“The Committee’s rationale to move the dates was based on the fact that the match was to take place on the last day of the international window and, scheduling it for the following day (today, Wednesday) would have affected the players’ scheduled return to their respective clubs.

“The committee, therefore, felt that moving the match to the next international window was the better course of action.

“CAF has informed the football federations of Sierra Leone and Benin about its decision and will provide further information on the rearranged fixture in due course.”

Sierra Leone however want the match cancelled and the three points awarded to them, which would give them them Group L’s second ticket behind Nigeria.

“CAF did not state the yardstick used by the Organising Committee to arrive at the decision (to postpone the match,” the Sierra Leone FA contended in an official statement on Wednesday.

“Consequently, and in accordance with article 83, 84 and 85 of the AFCON regulations which adequately address issues around failure to report for a match and/or refusal to play, of which there have been several precedents, the Sierra Leone Football Association has resolved to appeal against the decision of the CAF Organising Committee.”

Sierra Leone have four points from five matches and would qualify with a win, while Benin Republic have seven points and need a draw to go through.

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