The Confederation of African Football announced on Friday that the upcoming round of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers has been called off due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, which cancels Bafana Bafana’s fixtures against Sao Tome and Principe.
Caf made the decision on Friday after it was announced that all competitive football across Europe, including the Premier League and Uefa competitions, had been suspended until the 4 April.
The decision follows the announcement from the World Health Organisation which declared coronavirus a pandemic earlier this week, while the number of confirmed cases in South Africa rose from seven to 24 up to now.
In a statement, the continental football governing body announced:
‘As CAF’s top priority remains the health and safety of our stakeholders [players, officials, sponsors, broadcasters, employees, etc.], we have been monitoring closely, together with our medical committee, the impact of the current coronavirus crisis and accordingly:
- Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by WHO
- In Africa, only a few cases have been reported, but the situation could evolve negatively
- Several players, who are supposed to play the next AFCON qualifiers, come from countries which have been severely affected by the virus [Europe, Asia]
- Several African governments have taken strong restrictions on travels: lockdown, quarantine for people coming from countries affected by the virus
- Several clubs refuse now to release their players for the next international matches.
For the above reasons and after studying carefully the current situation, CAF has decided to postpone the Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers scheduled from 25 to 31 March.’
Molefi Ntseki’s team will not assemble om 22 March as initially expected but will instead be remaining with their club sides throughout the international break in order to try to combat the spread of the virus.
The news undoubtedly comes as a blow to the Bafana coach who has had a number of his games as head coach cancelled due to non-football reasons after missing out on international friendlies last year due to the xenophobic violence outbreak in the country.
The Premier Soccer League has yet to take any measures against the spread of the pandemic in the country, but it is expected to act in the coming days as the threat of the virus in South Africa continues to rise.
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