CAR football team delays return home after rebel advance

2013-03-25 13:25

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Members of the Central African Republic’s national football squad will delay their return home, the team manager said today, after rebels invaded the country’s capital while the players were in South Africa for a World Cup qualifier.

William Kongo said the players would leave South Africa in two groups, but neither would be returning home immediately. He said the Europe-based players would fly to Paris later today, while the domestic players would leave tomorrow for Douala in Cameroon, where they could monitor the situation at home.

Rebel soldiers overthrew President Francois Bozize on Sunday, taking over the presidential palace and forcing the country’s leader of a decade to flee the capital, Bangui.

Kongo said players usually transferred through western neighbour Cameroon on their way home, but would stay over in Douala for longer than a couple of days to see if it was safe to go home.

The home-based players still wanted to go home, according to Kongo, and had no reservations about returning. They would probably still go back this week, he said.

“It’ll take one to two weeks for everything to be okay,” Kongo told The Associated Press by telephone from Cape Town, where the CAR team lost 2-0 to South Africa in its World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

The SA Football Association said it was too early for it to talk to the Confederation of African Football or Fifa about whether to move the countries’ return qualifier in Central African Republic in June.

Thirteen South African soldiers were killed in the fighting in Central African Republic over the weekend, South African president Jacob Zuma said today.

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