Lefa cancels Makoanyane XI’s trip to Nigeria due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
The Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) yesterday called-off the national under-20 team’s trip to Nigeria, where they were supposed to play the Flying Eagles in the first leg, third round match of the 2015 African Youth Qualifier (AYC) in Kaduna on Saturday.
Lefa secretary-general, Mokhosi Mohapi, told the Lesotho Times late yesterday that the association had decided not to send the team to the West African country where the Ebola virus has killed two people and seen scores being hospitalised.
“The reason we had delayed the team’s trip until Friday was because we wanted to monitor the situation in Nigeria and after consulting with our government stakeholders in both the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, we have decided against honouring the match against the West African country because of the deadly Ebola virus,” Mohapi said.
Mohapi further said the decision to cancel the trip was also influenced by the fact that Nigeria does not have a good healthcare system and the capacity to ensure the players are protected during their short stay in the country.
“There was no way that we would send the team to Nigeria under these circumstances and with new reports of people dying due to the virus, we had to cancel the trip.”
The Lefa secretary-general said despite the Confederation of African Football (CAF) giving the match the go-ahead earlier this week, the organisation had since made a U-turn on the decision to force Lesotho to honour the fixture.
“We had written several letters to CAF despite the association giving the match the go-ahead because of the recent reports of more deaths in Nigeria. We, as a country, also do not have the capacity to deal with the disease in case our players were infected during the trip to West Africa where the virus has continued to kill people,” said Mohapi.
“We had to make a decision to protect the well-being of our players and the country at large, while there are also problems getting the team to Nigeria as some flights flying to West Africa have already been cancelled.
“However, we will keep knocking on the doors of CAF, pleading with them to hear our case because we want the match to be postponed or at least be played at a venue where our players will be safe from the virus, which has no cure.
“There was no guarantee that our players will come back home safe and healthy and we had to come up with the best decision for all the parties involved,” he said.
Makoanyane XI, as the team is affectionately known, knocked-out Swaziland and Angola in the first and second round respectively to book a date with Nigeria in the third and final round of the qualifiers.
The winner of this contest will qualify for next year’s eight-team African Youth Championship finals to be played in Senegal.