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CAF declines Liberia’s request for venue change

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has declined a request from the Liberia Football Association (LFA) to move Sunday’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Group G fixture is scheduled for Kinshasa’s Stade des Martyrs because of concerns over the Ebola epidemic.

CAF says it is monitoring the situation and that Kinshasa was safe to host the match as planned.

“According to reports, the virus is located very far from Kinshasa and there is no risk of organising the DR Congo versus Liberia match in the said venue as scheduled,” said CAF’s Director of Competitions, Samson Adamu, in an email to the LFA dated March 17 and seen by the BBC.

“CAF is in contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is following the situation closely to ensure the organisation of the match in the best conditions.”

Dr Soce Fall, the WHO’s regional emergencies director told CAF: “To get from Kinshasa to North Kivu/Ituri where the Ebola epidemic is, you’d need to take two flights because of the distance. For WHO, there is no restriction to play the match in Kinshasa.”

Any two of Group G’s four teams, which also includes Zimbabwe and Congo Brazzaville, can still qualify for this year’s finals in Egypt.

Despite their concerns, LFA Secretary-General, Isaac Montgomery has accepted CAF’s latest decision.

“The delegation to Kinshasa left yesterday and joined by the overseas-based players ahead of the match on Sunday. And by his [God] grace, all will be well,” Montgomery told BBC Sport on Monday.

In August 2014, CAF banned Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea from hosting international matches because of fears of spreading Ebola – eventually clearing the countries to restage matches in May 2015, December 2015 and January 2016 respectively.

According to the WHO, the most widespread Ebola outbreak in history began in Guinea in 2013 and killed more than 11,000 people – mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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