The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has preferred Liberia’s football giant, FC BYC to make its rival club’s country, the Gambia, as its (home) neutral ground, to play their return leg in the preliminary rounds of the CAF Club Championship.
CAF’s suggestion on the new ‘neutral ground’ is owing to the unstated withdrawal of the Mali Football Association (MFA) to host BYC and Real de Banjul match on Sunday, March, 1.
The information was disclosed by the Secretary General of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) Alphonso Armah in an exclusive interview over the weekend.
Liberia’s representative FC BYC, in the first leg with Real de Banjul of the Gambia, was forced to 1-1 pulsating draw in the capital city of the Gambia. The Liberian side raised the curtain in the 3rd minute through Lamin Jabateh, and the host rotated the score in the 83rd minute.
The LFA’s chief scribe said the notification from CAF in choosing a country for the 2nd leg is in consonance to the completion of the first round of the CAF Club Champions’ preliminary stage.
The football house spokesperson said the LFA in collaboration with FC BYC (popularly known as the Blues) has already confirmed their participation and have proposed two dates, one as an alternative.
“Upon the notification from CAF, the LFA in consultation with FC BYC confirmed the venue and our participation, and proposed Saturday or Sunday, the 7th or 8th of March for the match,” Mr. Armah said. “We are awaiting confirmation for one of the dates for the Blues to honor their return call.”
This information might cancel-out reports that Youth and Sports Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe is in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast to negotiate with the Ivorian FA, to use their country as a neutral ground for the Liberian side to host its counterparts.
The Malian FA agreed to use their country as ‘neutral ground’ for the Ebola-hit countries but later announced, cancelling the arrangement on Monday, February 23.
Accordingly, Liberia’s Fassell FC and the Guinean outfit, Horoya AC played their home-and-away game in Bamako, Mali, which ended 1-1 and 3-3 respectively — the narrow and tear-jerking results sent FC Fassell parking.
CAF in its fight against the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) delocalized games in Ebola hit-countries — which meant affected countries must seek neutral ground.
Meanwhile, most football pundits have expressed dissatisfaction over the selection of the Gambia to serve as neutral ground for the Liberian football giants, owing to the fact that the rival club, is from the Gambia.
They want the LFA to appeal to CAF to either increase the match officials to at least six persons or change the venue to promote fairness and transparency in the game.
“It will be a blow if the LFA doesn’t ensure that there is fairplay in The Gambia,” Sylvester Diggs said. “Playing our home game against a Gambian team in their own country needs a miracle — but another way to get a miracle will be if the LFA should act for a fair game.”
Casey Manneh said: “The LFA needs to act responsibly to put CAF’s feet in the fire, to scare the Gambians out of any cheating scheme.”
It may be recalled that Liberia’s second giant FC Fassell was eliminated from the 2015 CAF Confederation Cup, in BamaKo, Mali, in a 4-3 aggregate.