Speeding up AFCON preparations… CAF send top official to Cameroon

The Confederation of African Football have urged organisers to work around the clock to ensure next month’s Africa Cup of Nations finals went ahead amid threats from European clubs not to release their players.

CAF have sent their general-secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba to Cameroon to help speed up preparations almost a month before the planned kick off in a move that heightens concerns over the country’s readiness for the 24-team event from January 9 to February 6.

CAF have already threatened to move the opening game from Yaounde’s new Olembe Stadium if building work was not completed by the end of November but said on Wednesday that Mosengo-Omba visited the stadium this week and met the team working on the venue.

A CAF statement said he had “noted the progress made but also urged everyone to work around the clock to ensure that everything is in place for the opening game” on January 9.

“There is a lot of progress in most operational matters and there is work that is currently being done day and night by the host nation to ensure that all the facilities for the teams are ready,” the statement quoted Mosengo-Omba as saying.

“We know of the massive effort that everyone is putting as part of the final touches on the ground. We see this progress, we acknowledge this progress.”

He also met with Cameroon’s sports minister and minister of public health to discuss Covid-19 protocols at the tournament.

“CAF and Cameroon government reached common ground on the approach to the competition in January. Details and outcome of these discussions will be revealed later this week,” the statement said.

But on Wednesday it emerged that the European Club Association (ECA) threatened not to release players in a letter sent to FIFA last week because they were concerned there were no Covid protocols in place.

It also expressed concerns over the possibility of players facing quarantine on the return to their clubs as some countries tighten restrictions in the wake of the outbreak of the new Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

Players are obliged to release players for the tournament 14 days before the kick-off of the first match of their team.

But earlier this year, FIFA said that if any player faces a period of five days or more of quarantine on their return to their clubs, there was no longer an obligation to release them for international duty. – Reuters

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