AFCONQ: Sierra Leone vs Benin to be played behind closed doors

The Africa Cup of Nations qualification encounter between Sierra Leone and Benin Republic will be played behind closed doors.

The Sierra Leone Football Association made a request through the Confederation of Africa Football to allow 30% of fans for Monday’s crunch showdown.

However, the hosting Guinean Football Federation turned down the request due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Group L fixture, initially billed for Tuesday, March 30, at the National Stadium, Freetown did not take place owing to a Covid-19 controversy.

Nonetheless, the two teams will now square up against one another at the General Lansana Conte Stadium in a game that will determine the last team to secure a place for Cameroon 2022.

A 1-0 win will be enough for Leone Stars to qualify, but should Michel Dussuyer’s Squirrels – who just need a draw to qualify – score, John Keister’s men will need a two-goal winning margin to qualify and end their 26-year Afcon hiatus.

Their last outing was at the 1996 edition staged in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Tunisian Fifa referee Haythem Guirat will take charge of the encounter, while he will be assisted by Faouzi Jridi (assistant), Youssef Jemmi (assistant), and Mehrez Melki (fourth official).

Ghana’s Munkaila Nassam Adam will serve as match commissioner as Guinea’s Mohamed Bangoura replaces Songor Koedoyoma as the Covid-19 officer.

Sierra Leone coach John Keisterhad revealed that there is no “discomfort” within his squad.

“There is no pressure. Our ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, and there is no discomfort within our squad,” Keister told Caf website.

“This squad is a blend of both young and experienced players; I’ve rationally selected 11 local and 15 foreign-based players.
“Thankfully, despite the numerous challenges, we succeeded to arrange a camp and let our players train together in Freetown since last Monday.

“What I need now is support from our fans at home and abroad. Already there is a huge willingness among the players and the whole nation wants us to qualify.

“So, I’m on to guide the team to get the best result against Benin and proceed to Cameroon next year.”