Updated: Friday, 15 August 2014 04:26 | By Agence France-Presse

CAF reschedules African qualifiers over Ebola fears

African football's governing body has rescheduled qualifying matches in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone over concerns about the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed more than 1,000 people this year.


CAF reschedules African qualifiers over Ebola fears

A football player takes part in a training session on February 10, 2012, in Malabo, ahead of the 2012 African Cup of Nations - by Abdelhak Senna

"CAF will maintain its schedule of matches on the entire continent, except for three countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have recorded a great number of (Ebola) cases," a statement said.

"CAF has decided to ask the three federations to relocate to a neutral country the matches of their teams participating in CAF competitions, for a period up to mid-September 2014."

Two 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers -- Guinea v Togo on September 5 and Sierra Leone v DR Congo on September 10 -- will now be played at neutral grounds.

Sierra Leone have reached an agreement with Ghana to host DR Congo. Liberia has banned football matches and large gatherings until the disease is contained.

The death toll in the worst epidemic of Ebola since its discovery in 1976 climbed to 1,069 on Wednesday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said 56 people had died in two days.

The confederation said the decision to move matches was taken after consulting medical experts. The situation will be reassessed by mid-September.

Rwanda and Lesotho have raised concerns over the situation in Nigeria, where their teams are scheduled to play qualifying matches in the 2015 Nations Cup and the 2015 African Youth Championships respectively.

Three people have died in Lagos from Ebola while eight other people have been confirmed as having the virus.

CAF have cleared Nigeria to play, however.

"We expect Lesotho in on Friday after they received reassurances from both CAF and the Nigeria Football Federation," said Aliyu Auwal Ibrahim, a top official of the Nigeria U20 team, which plays its final African Youth Championship qualifier in the northern city of Kaduna on Saturday.

"The Nigerian government has risen to the challenge to ensure the disease is contained and people are not exposed to any health risks."

Nigeria's senior teams play a 2015 Nations Cup qualifier against Rwanda on September 6.

Rwandan football association president Vincent Nzamwita has said that in addition to contacting CAF about the disease in Nigeria, they will also seek government approval before travelling.

"The red flag is up for the deadly Ebola virus in Nigeria. If the government decides that the Amavubi (Rwanda full international team) does not travel, then we shall respect that," he said.

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