Morocco want Africa Cup postponed over Ebola

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 11, 2014, 09:38 AM IST
Morocco want Africa Cup postponed over Ebola

Hosts Morocco called Friday for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals to be postponed over the Ebola crisis.

The Moroccan health ministry want the January 17-February 8 African football showpiece delayed "to avoid events which would involve countries affected by the Ebola virus", the national MAP news agency reported.

MAP said a demand to postpone the Cup of Nations had been lodged with the organisers, the Cairo-based Confederation of African Football (CAF).

More than 4,000 people have died from the Ebola epidemic -- most of them in west African countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- since the beginning of the year.

Guinea and Sierra Leone are involved in ongoing group qualifiers while Liberia were eliminated in the preliminary knockout phase.

Despite the Moroccan government`s demands, the qualifying competition continued on Friday with Egypt grabbing a key 2-0 win against Botswana.

Midfielder Mohamed El-Nenny ended the stalemate by unleashing a 35-metre drive on 55 minutes that flew high into the corner of the net over goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe.

Chelsea striker Mohamed Salah added a second six minutes later with a low curling shot from just outside the penalty area.

It was a must-win Group G matchday 3 clash for the Pharaohs after losses away to Senegal and at home to Tunisia during September.

Senegal and Tunisia fought a dour 0-0 draw in Dakar to continue sharing the group lead with seven points each, Egypt have three and pointless Botswana appear out of contention.

The top two teams in each of the seven groups qualify and there will also be a place in Morocco for the best third-place country.

A deserved Egyptian success on a poor National Stadium pitch in the Botswana capital brought some relief to coach Shawky Gharib.

National football association president Gamal Allam this week told Gharib that he would be sacked if Egypt fail to reach the 2015 Cup of Nations.

The Pharaohs won a record three consecutive African titles between 2006 and 2010, then failed to qualify for the next two tournaments.

A near-capacity crowd at the 60,000-seat Stade Leopold Senghor in Dakar was subdued during a slow first half of many niggling fouls and barely any scoring chances.

Senegal striker Moussa Sow had the ball in the net after five minutes, but was correctly ruled offside.

Defender Hamza Mathlouthi later intervened to prevent Sow having a clear shot at goal and unmarked Sadio Mane misconnected with a cross to the annoyance of Senegalese supporters.

Tunisia were so intent on protecting their goal that when striker Fakhreddine Ben Youssef broke clear no team-mate was around to challenge for his cross.

In-form Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse came off the bench for the second half to replace Sow, but the well-organised Carthage Eagles continued frustrating the Terenga Lions. 

Lesotho and Angola drew 0-0 in a mediocre Maseru match -- a result that did the Group C chances of both teams little good. 

Burkina Faso, runners-up to Nigeria in the 2013 Cup of Nations, top the table with six points followed by Gabon with four, Lesotho two and Angola one.

Gabon host Burkina Faso in Libreville Saturday and they are the countries looking likely to qualify.

The Angolan Black Antelopes created more chances on a cool, windy night at Setsoto Stadium, but the Lesotho Crocodiles came close to snatching a stoppage-time winner off a corner.