October 10, 2018 / 4:43 PM / 8 months ago

Sierra Leone’s Nations Cup fate to be decided later

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - A decision on Sierra Leone, who have been banned by FIFA and stopped from playing two African Nations Cup qualifiers over the next five days, will not be taken before the end of November, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Wednesday.

Sierra Leone's Mohamed Kamara (L) fights for the ball with with Ivory Coast's Kalou Salomon during their 2015 African Nations Cup qualifying soccer match at the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan September 6, 2014. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

A FIFA ban on the west African country, because of alleged government interference in the running of the football association, means Sierra Leone are not allowed to play their scheduled Group F matches against Ghana in Kumasi on Thursday and then again in Freetown on Monday.

A CAF spokesman told Reuters it would not allow the matches to be played later, even if the ban was lifted.

But it would delay deciding whether to award Ghana a 3-0 victory in each match or disqualify Sierra Leone, in which case their results would be expunged and three teams would be left in the group, with the top two finishers advancing to next year’s finals.

Ethiopia and Kenya are the other two countries in the group.

Depending on if and when the ban was lifted, Sierra Leone could play their last two qualifiers against Kenya in November and Ethiopia in March, the spokesman added.

On Tuesday, FIFA rejected a petition from the country to lift the ban because they did not meet a deadline to reinstate ousted Sierra Leone Football Association president Isha Johansen, who is accused of corruption by government officials.

The country’s Anti-Corruption Commission would not budge on their decision to remove Johansen and general secretary Christopher Kamara over allegations of match-fixing involving the national team. Both deny any wrongdoing.

Earlier this week, Anti-Corruption Commissioner Francis Kaifala had slammed FIFA for suspending the country.

“Corruption is the biggest emergency Sierra Leone faces right now, and these actions from FIFA are nothing less than a violation of our national sovereignty,” Kaifala said.

“They may have their rules but we also have our own and will not be bullied around. We will play the game in our hearts even if they bar us from playing with them.”

Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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