Semitoje prays COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t stop Cameroon 2021 AFCON
Former Super Eagles defender, Isaac Semitoje hopes the deadly Coronavirus disease does not stall the hosting of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations slated to hold in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2021, reports allnigeriasoccer.com.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) moved the tournament from the summer of 2021 (June to July) backwards to January and February as was the period used previously before Egypt 2019 due to favourable weather conditions in January.
However, with the Coronavirus causing tournaments to be cancelled or postponed, Semitoje, who was in Nigeria’s squad to the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, said it could take its toll on preparations for the tournament next year as the 24 qualified nations are expected to begin preparations in December 2020.
“We are indeed in troubled times and it’s sad that this disease has affected sports and football in particular,” the onetime Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland FC) defender said.
“Well, as it is now, nobody knows when football will be back and if the AFCON is in danger of not holding in January, I will say let’s hope before then that the Coronavirus will be over,” Semitoje stated.
“Looking back now, it seems a good decision to move it (AFCON in the summer of 2021) to January and February of next year since the Euro 2020 was also moved to June and July. There will now be too many tournaments in the same year.
“For now, we should be focused on combating the disease. I believe it will be over,” Semitoje concluded.
Cote d’Ivoire was the originally designated hosts for next year’s AFCON but CAF awarded last year’s edition to Egypt and rewarded Cameroun, deemed not ready for a tournament to feature 24 countries, with next year’s hosting rights.
The Super Eagles were supposed to host Sierra Leone this Friday on Matchday 3 of the AFCON 2021 qualifiers and face the opponents in the reverse fixture next week before CAF postponed all of its club and international football matches in line with FIFA directives.