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Afcon Qualifier: New date for abandoned Sierra Leone vs Benin clash

00:17 BST 15/06/2021
Sierra Leone fans
The Leone Stars will now take on Michel Dussuyer’s Squirrels on Tuesday according to the continent’s football governing body

Caf has announced the abandoned Africa Cup of Nations qualification encounter between Sierra Leone and Benin Republic will now take place on Tuesday, June 15.

“The TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifier fixture between Sierra Leone and Benin, initially scheduled for today [Monday], has been rescheduled for tomorrow, 15 June 2021,” a statement from the Caf website read.

“The match will be played at General Lansana Conte Stadium in Conakry, Guinea at 16h00 GMT.”

The Group L fixture rescheduled for June 14 at the General Lansana Conte Stadium in Conakry did not take place amid another Covid-19 storm.

While the Leone Stars were warming up for the make-or-break encounter, news emanated that six of the hosts’ players, namely Ibrahim Sesay, Francis Koroma, Augustus Kargbo, Idriss Kanu, Alusin Koroma and Kassim Sima Turay tested positive for the virus.

And as a result of that, John Keister’s men refused to go on with the encounter as they probed the timing and reliability of the Covid-19 tests. After several hours of delays, the crunch tie was postponed.

This scenario occurred earlier on March 30 as Benin Republic's players refused to leave their bus after being told an hour before kick-off that six players—including star striker Steve Mounie —would not play after tests showed they had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Squirrels had claimed to have taken tests 72 hours earlier which produced negative results for all of the squad, and duly refused to contest the match without a full complement of players.

Sierra Leone coach Keister had stated that there was no "discomfort" within his squad.

"There is no pressure. Our ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, and there is no discomfort within our squad,” Keister told Caf website.

"This squad is a blend of both young and experienced players; I've rationally selected 11 local and 15 foreign-based players.

“Thankfully, despite the numerous challenges, we succeeded to arrange a camp and let our players train together in Freetown since last Monday.

"What I need now is support from our fans at home and abroad. Already there is a huge willingness among the players and the whole nation wants us to qualify.

“So, I'm on to guide the team to get the best result against Benin and proceed to Cameroon next year."

Michel Dussuyer’s side needs a draw to guarantee their place in the biennial African football showpiece, while victory for Keister’s team will send Sierra Leone through.