CAF’s Organizing Committee for the Africa Cup of Nations has postponed the AFCON 2021 qualification match between Sierra Leone and Benin to the next FIFA international window in June 2021.
The match was scheduled to be played on Tuesday, March 30, in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The committee made this decision after reviewing official accounts of the incidents that stopped the match from taking place at the scheduled time.
The incident arose after six starting players of Benin’s national team were reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 a few hours to kickoff.
Benin officials, including their FA President, refused to let the team play and insisted that they preferred to return to Benin than play without those five affected players.
The match, which should have started at 4:00 PM, was delayed and later pushed to 9:00 PM, but was finally canceled as both teams were now awaiting the decision from CAF.
CAF organizing committee’s rationale to move the dates was based on the fact that the match was to take place on the last day of the international window and, scheduling it for the following day (Wednesday, March 31) would have affected the players’ scheduled to return to their respective clubs, CAF said in a release.
The committee, therefore, felt that moving the match to the next international window was the better course of action.
CAF has informed the football federations of Sierra Leone and Benin about its decision and will provide further information on the rearranged fixture in due course.
Benin are second in Group L on seven points from five games and need just a draw to qualify, while Sierra Leone are third with four points and need a win to qualify.
Before the previous game date, players from both teams were promised attractive rewards if they qualify for the 2021 AFCON.
Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio promised to give to each national team player US$10K and a plot of land if they beat Benin, while each Benin player was promised a bonus of US$30K if they stop hosts Sierra Leone and qualify.