Hope for resumption of African soccer

Sports Reporter

The Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and World Cup qualifying matches may not be possible this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but there will be sufficient time next year to catch up, according to Fifa.

  The governing body originally allocated four two-match windows for Africa next year, March, August, September, October and November. It has since added a four-match window next June, raising to 12 the matches teams can play, if safe health conditions exist.

  Africa needs 12 days to complete qualifying as Afcon requires four and the World Cup eight. Matches planned for March, June August and September this year were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, except in Burundi, where it continued with crowds.

  There are two-match windows this October and November, but there is doubt on whether African teams will be ready to restart.

  Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Ahmad Ahmad warns about rushing to resume before the pandemic is contained.

  “We need to be careful on restarting our qualifying competitions; we dare not send our footballers back into action prematurely,” he said.

  Ahmad added that Caf would heed the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice and national health departments before any restart decisions are made.

 “Decisions we make today regarding the pandemic can be overtaken by tomorrow,” he said.

  The 2021 Afcon has been set back one year to January/February 2022, and the March and June windows could be used to complete qualifying.

  There are 12 groups of four with the winners and runners-up in all but Group F securing places at the finals.

  Cameroon qualify automatically as hosts, but are in Group F to gain competitive match practice, leaving Cape Verde, Mozambique and Rwanda to fight for one place.

  If CAF opt to use March and two June match days for Afcon, World Cup qualifying could start in June and continue in August, September, October and November.

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