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AFCON farce - Benin refuse to play amid COVID-19 testing controversy

Benin Source: AAP

The conclusion of the African Cup of Nations qualifiers has descended into farce as Benin refused to play their decisive qualifier in Sierra Leone after local authorities declared six of their players to be COVID-19 positive.

Benin, who claim to have taken tests 72 hours earlier which produced negative results for all of the squad, did not accept the results produced by Sierra Leone and duly refused to contest the match without a full complement of players.

Sierra Leone needed to win while Benin required only a draw for a place in next January's finals.

"A shame for African football what is currently happening, we hope the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will take responsibility and take action," a tweet from the Benin Football Federation read.

Benin players initially would not leave the team bus after being told the six players were ineligible for the crucial Group L match in Freetown.

Negotiations led to the kick off being put back three hours but the revised time passed without play starting.

The Benin federation later said its players had returned to the hotel after "being blocked on the bus".

There was no comment from CAF who must now decide whether the game goes ahead on Wednesday.

Matches in African club competitions earlier this year were dogged by players from visiting teams being disqualified by test results, some delivered just before kick off, leading to accusations that testing for the novel coronavirus was being manipulated to offer home teams an advantage.

On the pitch the Cape Verde Islands, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania all qualified for the finals, albeit with contrasting fortunes.

Cape Verde needed only a draw away to Mozambique in Maputo to prevent their hosts from qualifying but Faisal Bangal's own goal handed the visitors a 1-0 win in Group F.

Ethiopia lost 3-1 to Ivory Coast but still qualified along with the Group K winners, while Mauritania won 1-0 away to the Central African Republic in Group E to secure their spot for a second straight AFCON finals.

Guinea Bissau posted a 3-0 victory over Congo to catapult above them into second place in Group I.

They had to win the game while their visitors needed only to draw but Piqueti scored in the last minute of the first half and Frederic Mendy and Jorginho Intima added two more after the break to see Guinea Bissau to a third successive finals.

Source AAP