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COVID-19 test fraud dangerous for African football, say Omokaro, Udeze

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PHOTO: SKYSPORTS

• AFCON 2022 draws holds June 25 
The penchant for some African countries to employ the COVID-19 pandemic to disorganise their opponents through fake test results is dangerous for the continent’s football, former Super Eagles defenders, Ifeanyi Udeze and Bright Omokaro.

To avoid the confusion the recent trend could bring to African football, Udeze and Omokaro have urged the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to step in immediately and deploy its doctors to monitor COVID-19 tests at various centres when the World Cup qualifiers begin later this year.

The Guardian recalled that Plateau United Coach, Abdul Maikaba, had early this year called on CAF to wade into the COVID-19 controversy when one of his key players was screened out a few minutes to the kick off of their Champions League.

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Before Nigeria’s Nations Cup qualifier against Benin Republic last weekend, Beninoise officials screened out Super Eagles midfielder, Alex Iwobi, claiming that he tested positive to coronavirus. The positive result was later found to be false when the same player was tested in Nigeria after the game.

This same scenario played out in Freetown on Tuesday when five Benin Republic players said to have tested positive for COVID-19 were ruled out of their game against Sierra Leone. The confusion the test results generated led to CAF postponing the game.

To avoid such occurrences in future, Udeze called on CAF to take over the conduct of COVID-19 testing to ensure the right things are done.

“The present situation where some countries test players for COVID-19 and bring out questionable results to gain advantage over their opponents is bad. CAF should step in and start monitoring the tests, especially now that African teams are preparing for World Cup qualifiers.

“If CAF does not take this situation serious, more teams will join in this dubious act, which could rubbish the World cup qualifying series.

“It is vital for CAF to send medical officers to each centre to monitor COVID-19 tests to check some countries’ shenanigans.”

On Super Eagles’ quest for the World Cup ticket, Udeze said Nigeria is in good stead to qualify for Qatar 2022.

Also speaking on the COVID-19 controversy, Omokaro said using coronavirus tests to disorganise opponents paints a bad picture of African football.

“It is unfortunate that some African countries are now using COVID-19 testing as a means to undo their opponents when they are playing at home. With the recent issue in the game between Benin Republic and Sierra Leone, I believe CAF should start making arrangements to monitor the process in every country hosting a game.

“We cannot sit and watch African football die just because some people are using the pandemic as a means to cheat in football. CAF should act fast to avoid more controversies coming out of COVID-19 testing,” he said.

Meanwhile, CAF has disclosed that the Cameroun 2022 AFCON draws will hold on June 25.

The tournament will begin from January 9 to February 6, 2022.

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