Zambia opened its new stadium, earmarked for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals, with an emphatic 3-1 win over Sudan on Sunday.
Zambia is in the race to host the 2019 continental soccer show piece and is up against Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea with the Confederation of African Football scheduled to announce the winning bid on 20th September in Addis Ababa.
In the first match at the 50,000 seat National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, in what was the first match for new coach Honour Janza, Chipolopolo raced into a 2-0 first half lead courtesy of goals from Nkana defender Christopher Munthali and a headed strike by TP Mazembe striker Given Singuluma.
Mukuka Mulenga grabbed Chipolopolo’s third after rounding off Sudan goalkeeper Elmoiz Mahgoub to fire into an open net. Sudan pulled one back from the spot at the death through Bakri Ab Elgadir Babeker in a fixture both teams were using to shape up for the start of the final group phase of qualifying for the 30th Orange Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2015.
Africa cup of Nations 2012 winner Zambia is in Group F of Morocco 2015 qualifying and opens her campaign against Mozambique at Levy Mwanawasa stadium in Ndola on Saturday 6th September before traveling to Praia for the second fixture against Cape Verde on 10th September.
Sudan is in Group A and hosts South Africa on the first day before games against 2013 winners Nigeria and Congo.
The match, which is scheduled to be played in Abidjan on 6 September, may now be forfeited after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has refused proposals to relocate the affected fixtures.
Malick Tohe, spokesman for the Ivory Coast Football Federation, told BBC Sport: ”There is the option of relocating the game or even the option of forfeiting.”
However, there is thought to be sanctions from CAF if Les Elephants were to simply not take part in the fixture, and whether they would be able to carry on in their qualification group.
The setback is saddening for Africa’s largest international tournament, with one of it’s biggest footballing nations under threat in the competition due to the disease that has broke out across several African nations.
Sierra Leone have selected a squad of players who are based outside of the country for the match, whilst the nation has assured its travelling staff would be screened for the disease before being allowed to depart.
Ivory Coast will not be allowed to host their African Nations Cup qualifier next week against Sierra Leone in Abidjan because of fears over the Ebola virus, the country’s football federation announced on Tuesday.
The Ivorian government informed the football federation it will not allow the match to take place because all travel between the two countries has been banned.
“The authorities are taking no chances against a possible Ebola outbreak,” media officer Eric Kacou told reporters.
The move followed Congo’s demand that their scheduled qualifier in Nigeria next weekend be moved to a neutral venue because they are reluctant to travel to a country where there have also been deaths from the deadly virus.
Nigeria and Sierra Leone are among the countries affected by the hemorrhagic fever that has killed at least 1 427 people in the deadliest outbreak of the disease to date.
Sierra Leone and Guinea, another country where there have been over 300 fatalities, have been ordered by the Confederation of African Football to move their home qualifiers to neutral venues but the Ivorian ban is the first time a government has told its own team it cannot play at home.
Ivory Coast are scheduled to host Sierra Leone on September 6 in a Group D qualifier but must now scramble to find a new venue.
Sierra Leone have similar problems as they battle to find a country willing to allow them to host their second game in the group, against the Democratic Republic of Congo on September 10.
Guinea have moved their Group E opener against Togo on September 6 to Casablanca in Morocco.
Nigeria, where there have been five reported deaths because of the Ebola virus, are still on course to host their opening Group A match against Congo on September 6 but the Congo Football Federation has written to CAF to ask for it to be moved to a neutral venue.
“We feel it is difficult to take our players to that region. Cameroon have closed their border with Nigeria because of the outbreak which goes to shows the severity of the situation,” said Congo coach Claude Le Roy.
Ebola can kill up to 90 percent of those infected though the fatality rate in the current epidemic is around 60 percent.
Nations Cup qualifiers start on September 5-6 with a second round of games on September 10 as the group phase of the preliminaries for the finals in Morocco next year gets under way.
Libya were originally to have hosted the 2013 Nations Cup, but for a civil war which overthrew long standing dictator Muammar Gaddafi. South Africa then staged the 2013 AFCON.
According to the CAF website, a Libyan delegation led by the country’s minister of youth and sports and included the president of the Libyan Football Federation revealed in a meeting with CAF president Issa Hayatou that owing to the unstable security situation in the country, Libya would not be able to host the AFCON in 2017.
Consequently, the secretary general of CAF, Hicham El Amrani, dispatched a circular on 23rd August, 2014 to all 54 member associations informing them of the decision and “opening bids for the hosting of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.”
The designation of the host for this competition will be made according to the statutory provisions of CAF, especially in conformity with articles 27 to 47 of the Regulations Governing the Application of CAF Statutes, further announced CAF.
CAF headquarters in Cairo will receive applications until Tuesday 30th September, 2014.
In addition to the government guarantee, and considering the limited time left for the organisation of the 2017 edition, the CAF executive committee will select a host country whose dossier guarantees that accommodation, transportation and hotels facilities, as well as training sites and stadiums already exist.
A new hosts for the 2017 AFCON will be decided at a meeting of the executive committee in 2015.
The decision followed a protest made by the Congolese Football Federation regarding the eligibility of Rwandan player, Birori Dady.
Dady had featured in the first leg of the second round qualifier between the two nations last month in Pointe-Noir.
Congo claimed that Dady, who plays for AS Vita Club in Kinshasa, has a different name and age in his passport.
A subsequent Confederation of African Football (Caf) investigation looked at documents provided by the federations of Rwanda, Congo and DR Congo and also heard a testimony from the player on 11 August at Caf headquarters in Cairo.
Caf established that the player also uses a different age in his passport, and that the two identities referred to a single person.
They have therefore suspended the player until further notice and have banned him from playing for both his club and country.
Rwanda, who beat Congo on penalties over two legs to reach the group phase are disqualified. Congo progress to Group A of qualifying for Morocco 2015 as a replacement for Rwanda where they will meet Nigeria, Sudan and South Africa.
Vincent Nzamwita, the Rwanda FA President confirmed to BBC Sport in Kigali that he had been notified of the news.
“Yes we received communication from Caf about the disqualification.”
He however refused to reveal the next step of action.
Caf say they reserve the right to comment on whether they will impose additional sanctions at the next meeting of the Organising Committee scheduled for 17 September 2014.
African football’s ruling body also urge other “players and stakeholders to regulate the situation of dual identity.”
Caf say the decision takes effect immediately and say that if Rwanda choose to appeal, they will have to do so in accordance with Caf regulations.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed that the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Nigeria and Rwanda will go ahead in Calabar on September 6.
The Rwanda Football Federation (Ferwafa) had written to African football’s ruling body over worries about the threat of Ebola in Nigeria but CAF has declined a request to shift the game to another country.
The Secretary General of Ferwafa, Olivier Mulindahabi said CAF rejected Rwanda’s request, saying that there are no Ebola concerns in Calabar, the venue of the match.
The other two teams in Group A with Nigeria and Rwanda are South Africa and Sudan.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and see if we will send our team there and if we find the situation is not right to risk our players, we will definitely make another appeal to CAF, but for now, the game remains in Calabar,” he noted.
Meanwhile, CAF has ordered Guinea and Sierra Leone to move their African Nations Cup qualifiers next month to neutral territory following the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, which has killed more than 1,000 people.
Sierra Leone had already asked Ghana to host their game against the Democratic Republic of Congo next month but have received an uncertain response.
The Ebola epidemic – the world’s deadliest so far – has killed over 1,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
The World Health Organization has declared an international health emergency as it predicts the epidemic will continue for months.
“CAF has asked the three federations to relocate matches to a neutral country their teams are hosting in the CAF competitions up to mid-September,” said a statement from continental soccer governing body.
Guinea were due to host Togo on September 5 in their opening Group E qualifier while Sierra Leone’s first home game is on September 10 against DR Congo in Group D.
A request from the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) to play in Ghana has been rejected by Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hannah Tetteh.
The SLFA have been forced to move the tie to a neutral venue because of the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.
“We are yet to receive the final word from our Ghanaian counterparts,” Christopher Kamara, the SLFA secretary-general told BBC Sport.
“But if Ghana do turn down our request we’ll contact other countries. We are looking at Ebola free countries like Morocco and The Gambia.
“The issue of us withdrawing is out of the question.”
Sierra Leone will undergo tests for Ebola and then be certified as safe by the World Health Organisation before entering an Ebola free country.
Togolese football officials have appealed to the Confederation of African Football to move a game out of Ebola-affected Guinea as the outbreak of the deadly disease threatens to badly disrupt the African Cup’s final qualifying round.
Games involving Sierra Leone are already under scrutiny after that country said it would not host any soccer matches until further notice because of Ebola.
The Togo soccer federation’s request refers to its first game of the final group stage in Guinea in the first week of September. The Togo federation said over the weekend that its players and officials feared traveling to Guinea, where the Ebola outbreak started and where over 300 people are believed to have died from the virus.
“We are scared by the situation prevailing in that zone,” the Togolese federation said, adding it would follow advice from its government, which would likely prevent the party traveling to Guinea.
Ebola has killed nearly 1,000 people in West Africa after spreading from Guinea to Sierra Leone, Liberia and most recently Nigeria.
Togo stressed it would not “put in danger” the lives of its players and officials and said some of the squad members had already expressed fears over going to Guinea. The African soccer confederation is yet to rule on requests from Togo and Sierra Leone to move qualifying games away from Ebola-affected areas.
Sierra Leone wants to play its home qualifiers in neutral countries — possibly Gambia, Morocco or Senegal — because of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, which led to the declaration of a public health emergency and ended all soccer until further notice. Nearly 300 people have died there.
Even away games involving the Sierra Leone and Guinea teams could be problematic after the Seychelles prevented the Sierra Leone squad from entering its country last month because of fears they could bring in Ebola.
After Seychelles authorities refused to let the Sierra Leone party in, the Seychelles soccer federation was forced to forfeit the game and its place in qualifying. African soccer body CAF said it was investigating that move by the Seychelles, which could result in soccer sanctions.
Sierra Leone is due to play big-name teams Ivory Coast and Cameroon, as well as Congo, in the last round of qualifying, which runs from early September to mid-November. Guinea was drawn in a group with Ghana, Togo and Uganda.
The qualifying competition will decide the 15 teams to join host Morocco at the African Cup of Nations finals in January and February.
In Liberia, which is not part of the final qualifiers, former AC Milan striker and world player of the year George Weah has recorded a pop song to raise awareness of Ebola.
Newly appointed Zambia coach Honour Janza has called 26 players for his first domestic players training camp on Monday.
Janza took charge of the team this week following the departure of Frenchman Patrice Beaumelle to join his mentor Herve Renard as Cote d’Ivoire assistant coach.
The training session will be held over three days in Lusaka starting on August 11. Janza has handed an interesting recall to Zesco United defender Nyambe Mulenga who has been banished from the side since late 2012.
He has also made two surprise call-ups after naming striker Josphat Kasusu and midfielder Jacob Banda from struggling Kabwe Warriors.
Kasusu’s former club mates at National Assembly defender Alick Tembo and midfielder Timothy Mbewe have also been named in the 26-member team.
Other new faces are Nkana’s Simon Bwalya and Power Dynamos defensive midfielder Richard Kasonde. And Janza has also called a number of bench-warmers for his first training camp.
Power Dynamos midfielder Julius Situmbeko and Zanaco defender Jackson Kapumbu have seen very little league action for their respective clubs this year, get a chance to train with Zambia on Monday.
Furthermore, Red Arrows goalkeeper Daniel Munyau who has yet to see any competitive action since suffering an injury in late September, 2013 has also been summoned for the training camp. Goalkeeper Edson Phiri who did not even make Green Buffaloes team in their 2-2 away draw against Zesco on Wednesday has also been included in the team. Meanwhile, three Zesco call-ups are set to miss the training camp.
They are Nyambe, midfielder Justin Zulu and striker Jackson Mwanza who currently leads the 2014 top scorers chart with 11 goals. The trio will be away with Zesco in Tanzania until Tuesday to play Simba this weekend in the Dar-es-Salaam clubs 78th anniversary.
Team: Goalkeepers: Joshua Titima (Power Dynamos), Toaster Nsabata (Nchanga Rangers), Danny Munyau (Red Arrows), Edson Phiri (Green Buffaloes) Defenders: Jimmy Chisenga (Red Arrows), Alick Tembo (National Assembly), Adrian Chama (Green Buffaloes), George Chilufya (Nchanga Rangers), Christopher Munthali (Nkana), Nyambe Mulenga (Zesco United), Rodrick Kabwe, Fackson Kapumbu (Both Zanaco) Midfielders: Julius Situmbeko, Kennedy Mudenda, Richard Kasonde (All Power Dynamos), Justin Zulu (Zesco United), Timothy Mbewe (National Assembly) Jacob Phiri (Kabwe Warriors), Simon Bwalya (Nkana), Evans Musonda, Shadreck Malambo, Bruce Musakanya (All Red Arrows) Strikers: Moses Phiri (Zanaco), Ronald Kampamba (Nkana), Josephat Kasusu (Kabwe Warriors), Jackson Mwanza (Zesco United)