June 14 (Reuters) – The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Sierra Leone and Benin that was rescheduled from March descended into farce on Monday after it was alleged minutes before kickoff that six of the Leone Stars players had tested positive for COVID-19.
The match in neutral Guinea has been postponed again to Tuesday after Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials sought to quell the angry protests of Sierra Leone, having relayed to them during their warm-up that six players and two members of the technical team had tested positive.
According to local media, the team management disputed the results supplied by the CAF COVID-19 security officer at the match and demanded the players be retested and the game moved to Tuesday.
Benin need only a draw to qualify for the finals in Cameroon next January, while victory for Sierra Leone would see them win a place instead, making it a high-stakes game that was originally to be played on March 30 in Freetown.
The latest scenes are reminiscent of the first postponement, only this time the boot is on the other foot.
On that occasion, Benin accused Sierra Leone of gamesmanship when told, some 90 minutes before kickoff, that five of their players had failed COVID-19 tests and could not play.
Benin refused to honour the fixture and CAF ordered that it be played at a neutral venue, and that the ruling body would take control of the COVID-19 testing.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)
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