The Sierra Leone Football Association has explained why they are launching an appeal against the decision of the Confederation African Football to schedule a new date for the clash against Benin Republic.
The crunch Africa Cup of Nations Group L fixture was not held as arranged on Tuesday, March 30 in Freetown owing to a Covid-19 controversy.
Michel Dussuyer’s Squirrels arrived at the match venue, but they declined to leave their bus after being told less than an hour before kick-off that six of their players had tested positive for the virus.
Reacting to this, SLFA head of media and marketing, Ibrahim Kamara fumed at Benin Football Federation’s claims that Sierra Leone ‘sabotaged’ the encounter while contesting Caf’s choice to put the game forward.
- When is the next Mashemeji derby? The first meeting between Gor Mahia vs AFC Leopards in 2021-22
- Liverpool's humble hero: 'World class’ Matip becoming as vital as Van Dijk to Klopp
- Okumbi and four coaches who have served Harambee Stars under Mwendwa
- Joe Scally: Teenage USMNT hopeful starring in the Bundesliga
“First, Benin officials insulting us for sabotage is an insult – that is how we see it and we take a great exception to that,” said Kamara in a statement made available to Goal.
“It was very clear that the Benin national team was never ready to play the match on the 30th. The rules are clear on it; when you read Fifa’s ‘return to football policy’ and Caf’s frequently asked questions as regards the Covid-19 situation, it clearly speaks to all these issues.
“When you travel to another country, you have to subject yourself to Covid’s precautionary measures in that country and if any number of your players are found positive of Covid-19, the positive cases must be set aside and the other players must continue with the match.
“The match should never stop or be postponed as a result of Covid-19 positive cases. So, if Benin came here and few of their players tested positive, they were supposed to go on with the match.”
“The Leone Stars were there [at the Stadium], the referees, the match commissioner and the Caf security officer were prepared to go on with the match, they [Benin] were refusing - saying unless the five players tested positive are allowed to join the others, they would not play,” he continued.
“And the rule says that if they refuse to play, they are supposed to forfeit the points. Caf Afcon committee's decision to postpone the match is something we are going to resist as a football federation, we are going to challenge it - relying on the statutory provision that speaks to that very clearly in article 83, 84 and 85 of the Afcon regulations.”
As it stands, the Leone Stars occupy the third position in Group L having garnered three points. Victory over Benin will send them through to Cameroon 2022.
The Squirrels, who are second behind Nigeria would scale through with at least a point against John Keister's men.