Bloemfontein Celtic won’t be able to enter Nigeria to honour the return leg of their CAF Confederation Cup preliminary second-round fixture against Rivers United on Wednesday.
In correspondence seen by City Press, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has requested CAF to postpone the game, citing the impact of the new Covid-19-related travel restrictions in Nigeria as the reason.
According to the two-page letter from the office of the general secretary of the NFF, dated January 4, a request for a quarantine waiver for the Celtic contingent was declined.
“I kindly refer you to the subject matter and regrettably inform [you that] our request for a waiver for the Bloemfontein Celtic FC contingent to Nigeria for the CAF Confederation Cup match #70 has been declined by the authorities. We had high hopes [of] getting the waiver before the end of working today, but unfortunately the request was not approved,” read part of letter.
“This must be as a result of the alarming surge in Covid-19 infections across the country and not targeted at any demographic group or country.”
In light of this, the NFF has asked CAF to consider the postponement of the game, and “a possible rescheduling of both the date and the venue of the match”.
The NFF also noted that it was willing to stage the game “in any of Nigeria’s neighbouring countries with less stringent Covid-19 protocols”.
“Please understand that the health policy as put in place by the Nigerian health authority is aimed at controlling the spread of the alarming number of Covid-19 infections in Nigeria and not aimed at South African nationals. The relationship between these two countries remains cordial.”
Celtic are trailing 2-0 from the first leg they hosted at Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on December 3.
Phunya Sele Sele were not even able to leave the country for Nigeria.
Instead, the DStv Premiership campaigner posted pictures on its Twitter account of the team’s training sessions at their base in Bloemfontein on Monday.
Celtic dominated the news at the weekend after they took only four substitutes to their league game against Maritzburg United.
The depleted squad was due to some of the club’s players being in self-isolation due to Covid-19-related cases.
Celtic chief executive Khumbulani Konco confirmed the club was in Bloemfontein and they were informed about the restrictions in Nigeria.
Pirates CAF fixture cancelled
Orlando Pirates on Monday confirmed that they had progressed to the next round of the CAF Confederation Cup after the return leg of their first round preliminary fixture against GD Sagrada Esperança of Angola was cancelled.
The game was scheduled for Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.
Bucs won the first leg 1-0 via a Thembinkosi Lorch strike in Luanda on December 22.
Pirates received a free pass into the next round after Esperança’s withdrawal.
Clube Desportivo 1º de Agosto vs Kaizer Chiefs (Estádio 11 de Novembro, Lunada, at 5pm South African time)
. Goalless draw in the first leg
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Jwaneng Galaxy (Loftus Versfeld at 4pm – Live on SABC)
. Sundowns lead 2-0 from first leg