‘Caf is proactive this time around’- Olatunji-Okuku lauds decision to play Afcon qualifiers behind closed doors

The continent’s football ruling body is against having fans in stadia for the November qualifiers as part of measures to cut the spread of Covid-19

The Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) guidelines to its member association to boost safety and security protocols during this month’s 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers have been applauded by Samuel Olatunji-Okuku.

The race to Cameroon will be held between November 11 to November 17, albeit, no fans will be allowed at match venues – a decision taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the wake of Caf’s verdict, Nigeria’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Development through directives from the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 maintained that Super Eagles’ tie against Sierra Leone will be played without any fan or media in attendance.

“The ministry wishes to bring to your urgent attention that in compliance with the condition of no gathering agreed upon by the ministry and the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 before the Federal Government opened up football and contacts sports, the match between Nigeria and Sierra Leone will not have any audience,” the Ministry wrote in a statement, as per Punch.

Samuel Olatunji-Okuku


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Reacting to this, the experienced football administrator claimed the measures by the continent’s ruling body is a welcome development as that would thwart any possibility of players and coaches from contracting the virus.

“This is a very good decision considering what is happening in several parts of the world as we have some countries already going back into lockdown,” Olatunji-Okuku told Goal.

“This shows that Caf is very proactive this time around and that is worthy of commendation. It is better to play these matches behind closed doors and ensure that everybody returns safely to their clubs without any health scare.

“Recently, some top European coaches expressed their fears releasing their players for the Afcon qualifiers because they don’t know what is happening here. However, with the decision of Caf and the NFF, that has sent a strong signal that these players are safe.”

He went further predicting that Gernot Rohr’s men would soar against the Leone Stars despite the prospect of playing in an empty Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.  

“Whether we have the fans in the stadium or not, we are home and with due respect, I don’t see Sierra Leone leaving with a point because we boast quality players in our ranks.”

Nigeria currently lead Group L with six points after securing victories against the Republic of Benin and Lesotho.

Published at Tue, 10 Nov 2020 20:11:56 +0000

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