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African Nations Cup qualifiers postponed over coronavirus

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Two rounds of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers scheduled for March have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Friday.

Rounds three and four of the pool qualifiers were due to be played in the international window from March 25-31, but the CAF emergency committee has postponed the games until further notice, without providing alternative dates.

The Nations Cup finals in Cameroon have been moved forward to next January-February to avoid the rainy season, which means the qualifiers will have to be completed this year.

That could see a delay to the start of the African World Cup qualifiers that were due to start in October.

The Nations Cup qualifiers would have involved 48 countries, with many players travelling from the major European leagues in Italy, France, England, Germany and Spain, where the coronavirus has disrupted domestic fixtures.

CAF has also postponed qualifiers for the 2020 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations scheduled for April and this month’s Women’s Under-20 World Cup preliminaries.

“We would like to assure you that CAF is monitoring the situation closely and working with the competent authorities such as WHO (World Health Organization) on the impact of the virus in the continent and CAF competitions,” a statement said.

The African Nations Championship, a national team competition for home-based players, is still on in Cameroon from April 4-25 but dependent on the findings of the CAF medical committee who will visit the country this weekend to assess preventative measures taken by the Local Organising Committee.

Morocco’s football federation has called a meeting for Monday to decide whether they will play in the tournament.

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