African football chiefs will decide on Thursday whether to go ahead with CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup matches in Morocco during September amid a coronavirus spike there.
The kingdom is scheduled to host the first legs of the Champions League semi-finals and the Confederation Cup ‘final four’ mini-tournament this month. However, the Confederation of African Football officials are concerned after a rise in Covid-19 cases which has caused only one Moroccan league match to have been played during the first two weeks of September.
No fewer than 12 of the 16 Botola Pro 1 clubs have reported positive cases, calling for an order that players must stay in hotels or sport centres rather than returning home after each match.
The CAF statement said, “A video conference meeting of the executive committee will address several important topics related to the football situation on the continent.”
Two senior CAF officials confirmed to newsmen that the concluding stages of the Champions League and Confederation Cup competitions will be among the issues on the agenda. Both Champions League semi-finals involve Moroccan and Egyptian clubs with Raja Casablanca playing Zamalek and Wydad Casablanca meeting Al Ahly.
The first legs are set for September 25 and 26 in Casablanca with the return matches in Egypt on October 2 and 3.
Both Confederation Cup semi-finals are to hold September 22 with Hassania Agadir tackling fellow Moroccans Renaissance Berkane and Pyramids of Egypt confronting Horoya of Guinea.
Horoya, the only sub-Saharan club among the semi-finalists in the two competitions, have experienced difficulties with travel plans.
The club president, Soufiane Souare said, “We are considering numerous options to reach Morocco, but it is far from a straightforward situation”
Ahly and Zamalek have different opinions on what should happen if CAF decide that the Champions League first legs cannot hold as planned in Morocco.
Zamalek president, Mortada Mansour expressively told the club website that he would prefer both legs of the semi-finals be played in Egypt rather than be postponed as said: “I propose we play the home and away games of the Champions League semi-finals in Egypt. We welcome our fellow Moroccans, for whom we have all the love and appreciation.”
An announcement on Al Ahly TV said the record eight-time African champions would not object to a delay as Cairo club said: “We were planning to play the semi-finals as per the scheduled dates, (but) human and health conditions are more important than a competition.”
The semi-finals and finals of both competitions were originally scheduled for May, but could not be played because of the coronavirus.