NAIROBI — Seychelles have forfeited their 2015 African Nations Cup qualifying tie against Sierra Leone after refusing entry to the West African nations’ football team because of fears over the Ebola virus.
Sierra Leone, where a state of emergency was declared on Thursday to quarantine victims of the deadly disease, were due to play the Seychelles in the second leg of a play-off tie on Saturday, but were denied permission to board a plane for Mahe leaving from Nairobi on Thursday.
The Seychelles have since said they will forfeit the game, allowing Sierra Leone to advance to the next round.
Seychelles Football Association president Elvis Chetty told the BBC the decision to deny entry had been made by the island nation’s health ministry.
“I would like to state that the Seychelles FA lays no blame at
the feet of the Sierra Leone FA for this.
“We have taken the decision because of the advice sent to us by the Seychelles Ministry of Health.
“We also received a letter from the Ministry of Immigration saying it would not allow the Sierra Leone team to enter our jurisdiction.
“They are asking us to postpone the game for an indefinite period, so we feel it is right to forfeit now rather than drag it out.”
Competition rules do not allow for postponements of longer than three days, which means the Seychelles either host the game or give up their place in the competition.
Sierra Leone, who lead 2-0 from the first leg at home a fortnight ago, had already gone through immigration checks and were waiting to board a flight when they were told by the Kenyan Airways that they would not be allowed to travel, reporters said.
Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims, joining neighbouring Liberia in imposing controls as the death toll from the outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa.
The World Health Organisation reported 57 new deaths in the four days to July 27 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma announced a series of emergency measures, to initially last 60 to 90 days, in a speech on Wednesday night.
“Sierra Leone is in a great fight. Failure is not an option,” he said.
Meanwhile, Botswana could be forced out of the qualifiers for the 2015 African Nations Cup as their cash-strapped association battles to come up with the funds to send the team to Guinea-Bissau this weekend.
The Zebras hold a 2-0 lead from the home leg of their second round qualification tie, where victory on aggregate would see them enter the pool phase of the competition alongside Tunisia, Egypt and Senegal.
But with the game scheduled to be played today in Bissau, as of Tuesday morning Botswana still did not have a leaving date for the long trip to West Africa.
There have also been reports from Botswana that the players have not been paid allowances from the first leg and “were not keen” to train for the clash.
Botswana coach Peter Butler spoke of the potential of not being able to travel for the second leg when he tweeted yesterday: “Super disappointed by what I was told today (yesterday) by [Botswana FA] CEO. We have worked so hard to get this far, would be gutted if we can’t travel to Guinea for the second leg.”
He then hinted he would leave his post if this was the case.
“We all need to stick together, the players have been brilliant, I have loved working with them would be sad to leave. Plans are in ruins, we go back to square one.”
Botswana can expect a lively time in Bissau if they do make
it, they were accused of shenanigans by the Guinea side after six of their players were denied entry into Botswana for the first leg, leaving them short of some top names.