Windhoek - The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has hailed the collaborative effort that ensured all 48 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers took place as envisaged during the recent international break despite the menace posed by COVID-19.
International football returned to Africa in November after lockdowns put a halt to sporting activities across much of the continent for most of the year.
CAF employed rigorous health screening and intense safety and security measures for 2021 AFCON qualifiers.
Over two match days, 48 games were played and a total of 105 goals were scored. On the health front, 4,146 COVID-19 tests were conducted, resulting in only 48 positive returns (30 players and 18 officials), translating to a less than one percent infection rate of those screened.
CAF said it would learn from the experience of the recent international break, and would apply the lessons to all future engagements at country and club level.
“A significant collaborative effort across the continent, as well as numerous online training courses have helped to prepare the ground for a safe resumption of our elite competitions in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” said CAF.
“It is essential to ensure the safety of all concerned, on and off the field, during these difficult times when the pandemic remains a present threat, with countries facing a second wave. Football has regained its rights to be played in the stadiums, and it has been an incredible success to manage to play 100% of the matches planned.”
Four countries - Algeria, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia – have so far qualified for the Total AFCON in Cameroon.