The next rounds of the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, scheduled for September 2022, have been pushed to March 2023, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced.
CAF’s Executive Committee approved the revised qualification calendar based on its commitment to “making room for the African nations that have qualified for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in November/ December 2022 to prepare adequately.”
The 2022 FIFA World Cup, the 22nd edition of the quadrennial international men’s football championship, is scheduled to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.
Africa will be represented by Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia.
The Lone Star was due to host South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in their next qualifying match in September at the SKD Sports Stadium, pending approval by CAF after a stadium inspection initially scheduled for August.
With this latest development from CAF, the Ministry of Youth and Sports now have ample time to fully complete renovation works at the SKD Sports stadium in order to host the Lone Star’s next home match in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers.
The major works, including the installation of the artificial turf and the bucket seats, the refurbishment of the dressing rooms, medical and media rooms, and the VIP lounge, have already been completed. At the moment, there are ongoing works on the extension of the height of the external fence around the facility and additional measures aimed at controlling the crowd during matches.
Who Will Coach Lone Star in March?
The Lone Star will have a new coach during the match after the Liberia Football Association (LFA) officially communicated with coach Peter Butler that his contract will not be renewed.
Coach Butler’s contract with Liberia will expire on August 15 after a three-year spell. His last match in charge of the Lone Star was on June 13, at the Mohammed V stadium in Casablanca where Liberia lost 2-0 to Morocco in their opening match in Group K of the qualifiers.
LFA last week announced a vacancy for the position for interested candidates including Liberians home and abroad. Applicants must have obtained the minimum coaching license(s)—UEFA Pro License, CAF B, or A.
Currently, the men’s senior national team is being led by stand-in coach Ansumana Keita, who guided the team, comprising local-based players in a two-legged tie against Senegal in the 2022 CHAN qualifiers.
Liberia suffered a 3-0 at home in the first-leg and secured a 2-1 win away, but lost on aggregate. The victory was Liberia's first-ever away victory against Senegal in 55 years.
There have been calls for the football association to appoint Keita as Head Coach of the senior team due to his impressive work at the U15 and U17 levels. Others, however, believe that Keita should remain with the grassroots teams to develop more local talents in the country.