NFA's fears over Mali unrest

The Namibia Football Association has requested a neutral venue for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers away fixture against Mali.

14 October 2020 | Sports

Jesse Jackson Kauraisa

WINDHOEK



Namibia's senior national team will not be able to play their next African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier match in Mali due to unrest in that country.

The team is scheduled to play Mali on 13 November in a group A match away from home.

Mali is, however, going through political unrest which started on 5 June when protesters gathered in the streets of the capital Bamako, calling for president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to step down.

The unrest led to a coup d'état on 18 August by Mali's military, and matters have yet to be resolved.

This has resulted in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) giving Mali the option to choose a venue in another country for their home matches.



NFA wants neutral venue

NFA acting secretary-general Franco Cosmos, who was part of a virtual meeting with CAF officials on Monday, said their request for a neutral venue has been noted, but it is up to Mali to make the final decision.

“The NFA has requested for a neutral venue but that will be up to Mali to decide where they want the match to be played.

“South Africa has offered to host the teams but I doubt that Mali will want to come and play their home match in southern Africa.

“The possibilities are that we might be travelling to West Africa in a country of Mali's choice for the match,” Cosmos said.



Ready for return leg

The Namibian team also confirmed its readiness to host Mali for the return leg, slated for 17 November. Players entering Namibia will be required to submit their coronavirus test results upon arrival at Hosea Kutako Airport. They will then be subjected to another test, while being kept in isolation.

“We will then have to screen them every day just to make sure that we avoid any surprises before or after the match,” Cosmos added.

“In the meeting, we also informed CAF that we will honour our all our fixtures,” he said.



Group standings

Namibia are in a group with Mali, Guinea and Chad as the nations vie for a spot at Africa's next football showpiece. The Brave Warriors are currently in third after beating Chad 1-0 and losing 2-0 to Guinea.

Guinea tops group A with four points followed by Mali (also on four), while Chad are at the bottom of the table, having failed to collect a single point in the two matches they have played so far.

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