Ebola: Sierra Leone now free to host games
The Confederation of African Football has given Sierra Leone the go ahead to host international soccer matches again after being declared free of the Ebola virus in November.
A statement from the African football’s governing body said that “international football matches and CAF competitions can again be organised in the West African country”
Something which was not possible since August 2014 when CAF upon the recommendations of the World Health Organization suspended football matches in countries affected by the Ebola virus epidermic.”
However, the clearance came too late for Sierra Leone’s World Cup hopes after they were eliminated from the 2018 qualifiers in October.
They would be able to resume their bid to qualify for the 2017 African Nations Cup finals in Freetown with a Group I qualifier against Gabon in March.
After being banned from playing at home, Sierra Leone initially ceded home advantage in both national team and club competition matches to their opponents after failing to find a neutral country prepared to help them host.
They were eventually allowed by Nigeria to use the coastal city of Port Harcourt for ‘home’ matches.
With Sierra Leone’s clearance, Guinea remained the only country still banned from hosting international football matches because of the virus but that could soon change as Guinea’s last known patient recovered in late November.
It would be recalled that the outbreak killed 11,300 people mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since it began in 2013.