Caf has made a sudden u-turn by postponing this month’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in the wake of coronavirus pandemic that has now affected footballers and coaches in Europe.
This comes just two days after Africa’s football governing body announced that it competitions will go ahead as the continent had not been declared a high risk area over the deadly disease.
Some 48 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers were set to take place in nearly 50 countries across the continent at the end of March.
But since that decision on Wednesday, some footballers, coaches and administrators in England, Italy and Germany have been infected with the highly contagious disease.
With majority of the players scheduled to play in the qualifiers coming from some of the highly affected countries, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has decided to postpone the matches.
Meanwhile, decision on the African Nations Championship (CHAN) which is scheduled to take place in Cameroon between 4-25 April will be announced in the coming days.
Caf officials are visiting CHAN host Cameroon – which has suffered two cases – to ascertain the level of preparedness to combat the spread of the disease during the competition for African players based in their own national leagues.
Kenya’s government has already stated that no sporting competitors can leave the country to travel abroad until early April, meaning the Harambee Stars’ Nations Cup tie in Comoros on 29 March is uncertain.
Tunisia has cancelled all football matches while Burundi said they will not be inviting Europe-based players for their upcoming AFCON qualifiers because of the coronavirus.
Coronavirus cases have currently been declared in twelve African nations, with Egypt the worst affected.
On Tuesday, Algeria’s government announced that the remainder of the football season would be played behind closed doors because of the outbreak while others, such as Rwanda among others, have insisted on no handshaking prior to games.