AFCON Qualifiers: Super Eagles’ rivals, Sierra Leone contest CAF replay decision

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(From L, Front Row) Players of Sierra Leone's national football team, defender Mustapha Dumbuya, forward Alhassan Kamara, defender Hassan Mila Sesay, midfielder Julius Wobay and (From L, Back Row) midfielder Mohamed Kamara, midfielder Sheriff Suma, midfielder John Kamara, midfielder Khalifa Jabbie, defender Alie Sesay, Goalkeeper Solomon Zombo Morris and midfielder Umaru Bangura pose prior to the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifying football match Cameroon vs Sierra Leone on October 11, 2014 at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde. AFP PHOTO / PACOME PABANDJI (Photo credit should read PACOME PABANDJI/AFP via Getty Images)

Super Eagles’ Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Group L rivals, Sierra Leone have announced its intention to appeal the decision of the AFCON Organising Committee to order a replay of their final round AFCON qualifier with the Squirrels of Benin in the next International window in June.

The Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in a press statement made available through the Sierra Leone Football Association official media department are appealing that the game should have been awarded to them based on past precedents for teams that decided to beach Covid-19 protocols.

“The Sierra Leone Football Association has in an official correspondence to CAF Secretariat yesterday Thursday April 1, 2021 officially announced its intention to appeal against the decision of the AFCON Organizing Committee to postpone the match #151 of the 2021 AFCON Qualifiers between Sierra Leone and Benin“until the next FIFA international window scheduled for June 2021.”

SLFA in the correspondence states that, “The Benin National Team (Squirrels of Benin) although they were afforded all the opportunities to partake in the competition, indicated an express refusal to participate in the aforesaid match and conducted themselves in such manner that was not only prejudicial to the possibility of the match being held but also injurious and threatening to the health and safety of all concerned.”

“SLFA’s intention to appeal against the above-mentioned decision is premised principally but not limited to the following: that the decision by the AFCON Organizing Committee is not supported by law, that there was a breach of COVID-19 domestic protocols, that there was a breach of natural justice principles, and that the entire modus of the “Squirrels of Benin” was to abandon and/or refuse to play the match,” the statement concluded.

Benin Republic are currently second in the group with seven points behind already-qualified Super Eagles of Nigeria who finished the qualification campaign with 14 points from six matches. Sierra Leone who are presently third with four points from five games will pick the second ticket if they beat Benin by the margin of two goals. It will better the outcome of the first leg result in Cotonou which ended 1-0 in favour of the Squirrels.

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