Algeria offer venue change

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THE Confederation of African Football (Caf) is yet to make a decision on whether the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group H qualifier between Algeria and Zimbabwe will go ahead due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Algeria is one of the worst-affected countries on the continent, with at least 20 confirmed cases of the deadly epidemic which originated in Wuhan, China last year.

The Desert Foxes are scheduled to host the Warriors at the Mustapha Tchaker Stadium in Blida on March 26.
What is of concern to Caf and both teams is the fact that Blida is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Algeria, with 17 of the 20 confirmed cases all from the city, which is 44km outside the capital Algiers.

Besides proposing to host the game in an empty stadium, the Federation of Algerian Football (Faf) is now lobbying Caf to move the game to Stade July 5 in the capital, which has no confirmed coronavirus cases so far.

Zifa recently wrote to Caf requesting clarity on whether the match should go ahead in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in Algeria.

However, the Cairo-based organisation is yet to make a determination on the matter.

“So far, no decision has been made by the authorities. We have already approached the ministry of Health and the ministry of Youth and Sports, with which we are in permanent consultation.

“We are monitoring the development of the situation closely. Caf has not yet confirmed the game going ahead on March 26, it may be that they have reservations about the place, due to the coronavirus epidemic.

“In this case, the match will be rescheduled to the Stade July 5, which is already on the Caf register, as an alternative. It is on the register and Les Verts coach Djamel Belmadi recently visited the venue,” Faf communications manager Salah-Bey Aboud told Algerian media yesterday.

Besides the issue regarding the venue, both teams are also facing a huge task of convincing European clubs to release their stars for the two games.

Aston Villa are unwilling to let star midfielder Marvelous Nakamba join his Warriors teammates for the trip to Algeria.

Villa fear that Nakamba will have to be put on isolation for 14 days afer he returns to the United Kingdom having visited a country affected with coronavirus.

Algeria are also sweating on the availability of their captain Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City and star midfielder Ismael Bennacer of AC Milan.


Nigel Matongorere

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