Africa: Chaos As French Authorities Bar Players

soccer, pair of boots
19 March 2021

THIS month's 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers have been thrown into chaos, after French authorities barred all African players, from leaving to represent their countries, this month.

It's a huge blow for a number of West African countries, who have the bulk of their best players, plying their trade in France.

The latest developments will also pile pressure on new CAF boss, Patrice Motsepe, and his executive, to consider postponing the qualifiers set for next week, and open the window, for friendly matches.

The Herald have been campaigning, for the qualifiers to be postponed, and yesterday this newspaper found backing, in many African countries, after the decision by the French clubs.

The decision means the influential duo of Tino Kadewere, and Marvelous Nakamba, are out of the Warriors' two qualifiers against Botswana and Zambia, this month.

Although there has been speculation a deal could be thrashed, which would see the two playing in the two matches, a decision reached by French clubs, to stop their African players from leaving the country, provides closure to the case.

It is also consistent with this newspaper's reporting, that Kadewere and Munetsi, will not be allowed to come home for the two qualifiers.

But, crucially, both Botswana and Zambia, are also now expected to benefit from playing a weakened Algerian side, without their stars based in England and France.

"The Algeria national team will look very different this upcoming international window with all France-based players unavailable, it will be an opportunity for #TeamDZ (Team Algeria) coach Djamel Belmadi to test out some new players," reported the Twitter account of the Algerian Football Federation.

"Reminder -- Algeria has already qualified for #AFCON2021."

Djamel Benlamli, Andy Derlot, Harris Belkebla, Riyard Mahrez and Said Benrahma are some of the key Algerian players who are not expected to feature in those matches.

The Algerians have 17 players, in French Ligue 1, third only, in terms of African representation, from Senegal, who have 28 and Mali, who have 18.

There are 11 Moroccans, eight Moroccans, seven Ivorians, six players from Guinea and five from Nigeria, DRC and Togo, four from Ghana and Tunisia and three from Gabon, Madagascar, Benin and Guinea Bissau.

Mozambique and Cape Verde, just like Zimbabwe, have two players each, in the French top-flight league while South Africa, Congo and Chad have a player each.

However, there are many African players, in the French Ligue 2, who play for their national teams and they have also been barred, from travelling, to feature in this month's qualifiers.

Emotions exploded, across the continent yesterday, with some officials saying the latest developments mean the forthcoming matches, will lose a certain value, if they are allowed to go ahead.

"On the initiative of the presidents of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 colleges, a consultation was carried out on Wednesday March 17, with all the presidents of clubs, concerning players outside the France A team likely to participate in a match outside the EU/EEA zone during the next international period in March," a statement read.

"In the absence of a septaine exemption, for foreign international players made available to their national team and, in view of the response times imposed by international regulations, the clubs of Ligue 1 Uber Eats and Ligue 2 BKT have decided to 'unanimously, this Wednesday March 17, to apply the FIFA circular of February 5, 2020, taking into account the many travel restrictions in the world.'

"In this context, the clubs will not make available, for selection, the foreign players summoned for matches outside the EU/EFa zone during the next international period in March."

Already, Warriors coach, Zdravko Logarusic, cannot call upon his United Kingdom-based stars like Marvelous Nakamba, Jordan Zemura, Tendayi Darikwa, Admiral Muskwe and David Moyo.

Loga will also be without injured Kaizer Chiefs star forward, Khama Billiat, who has not recovered, in time for the qualifiers.

Prince Dube, who plays for Azam in Tanzania, has also been ruled out because of injury.

Dube scored the Warriors equaliser, in their last qualifier, against the Desert Foxes, in November last year.

Warriors team manager, Wellington Mpandare, said they had expected a setback, ahead of the qualifiers, because of the complications related to the Covid-19 regulations.

He said that was the reason Loga named a 42-member squad so that, in the event some of the regulars do not come home, they will have replacements for the two matches.

"Officially, they (the French authorities) have not communicated to us. We have seen the statement but, all along, we have been talking behind the scenes, as of Wednesday, we were still talking," said Mpandare.

"It's unfortunate but this is why the technical team came up with a 42 member squad to address these challenges."

Injuries also continue to stalk the Warriors squad. "At the same time, we are having problems with injuries," said Mpandare.

"Kuda Mahachi has recovered, he is fine and has a weekend game.

"Knox Mutizwa was injured, when they played against TTM, he has an ankle injury. He tried to train today but failed.

"The situation is not looking good, and he is going for scan tomorrow (today).

"Prince has failed to recover on time, he is definitely out, Buthelezi Ncube is coming, he has recovered. "Terrence Dzukamanja had an injury but he has recovered, he played the second half against Enyimba (for Orlando Pirates, in the Champions League).

"Kevin Moyo is not feeling well, it is suspected it is malaria and Nkana have advised us today that he has been admitted into hospital, so he is a doubt."

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