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Monday, 16 March 2020 13:41

Flames AFCON qualifiers hits a snag

Written by  Mphatso Sam

Blantyre, March 16, 2020:  Malawi National Football Team 2021 Total African Cup of Nations (ACFON) qualifiers matches have met a stumbling block after Confederation of African Football (CAF) called off the matches due to the outbreak of Corona Virus (COVID-19).

The Flames, who are in Zambia where they played a friendly match and lost 1-0 to the host, were set to play back to back AFCON qualifier matches against Burkina Faso on March 28,2020 in Ouagadougou before hosting their opponents at the Kamuzu Stadium on March 31,2020.

In a communication from CAF, the association has postponed the matches which were scheduled for March 25 to 31 adding that the CAF will release a new calendar after evaluating the COVID-19 situation.

“COVID-19 has been declared pandemic by World Health Organisation (WHO); several players who are supposed to play the matches come from countries which have been severely affected by the virus in Europe and Asia.

“Several clubs refuse to release their player for the next international matches. Meanwhile, CAF medical committee is carrying many inspection visits to the countries hosting the final tournaments,” CAF Acting General Secretary, Abdel Bah said in the communiqué.

Meanwhile, FIFA has postponed the international matches for the March and April window due to the outbreak of the virus, which so far has killed 3,500 people across the World and has reported 27 cases in Africa.

The postponements, according to FIFA General Secretary Fatima Samoura, are measure put in place to avoiding unnecessary health risks and sporting unfairness, saying the matches would resume upon noticing that there is a safe and secure environment for the matches.

Currently, FIFA has already postponed the qualifying matches for FIFA World Cup in both Asia and South America adding that the general football rule obliging club to release players for national team matches will not apply for the upcoming international window.

“Clubs are not obliged to release their registered players to association teams. If a club agrees to release a player to teams, the player may decline the call-up and such decisions shall not be subject to disciplinary measures,” FIFA communiqué reads in part.