Morocco’s farcical handling of Kaizer Chiefs’ African Champions League match against Wydad Casablanca appears to have been stopped in its tracks after it emerged on Monday that the called-off game will now finally be played in Burkina Faso on the 28th of February.
Mamelodi Sundowns’s match against Algeria’s CR Belouizdad was also subjected to similar treatment and uncertainty‚ but it has been announced that the match will take place in Tanzania, on the same day.
South African Football Association (Safa) CEO, Tebogo Motlanthe said that he was in possession of letters from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) confirming that the two games will be played on Sunday.
“I can confirm that we have received letters that say Chiefs will play in Burkina Faso and Sundowns will play in Tanzania on the 28th of February. But the association will further consult with the two teams and check if they will be able to meet the logistics and all that‚” he said.
He said Kaizer Chiefs suggested the 28th of February date, so he does not expect them to have too much trouble with the new date.
“With Sundowns I do not know, because it will also have an impact on the domestic league. And Caf needs to understand that it is not as if you are moving to Polokwane and then not playing,” he said.
The Moroccans and the Algerians only sprung into action after they were given belated ultimatums by CAF to find alternative venues by Monday at midnight or face 2-0 walkovers.
Chiefs’ encounter against Wydad was postponed three times after the Moroccans initially refused to grant the Naturena side visas to travel to Casablanca‚ citing Covid-19 fears as the reason. After giving Chiefs the runaround for several days‚ the Moroccans insisted that the game be played at a neutral venue, with Egypt as the designated choice.
But this plan also fell apart when Chiefs could not get visas in time to make the match. It was called off again. Then, a new date in Egypt was sought, but this also fell apart when it clashed with the staging of another game.
Safa called on CAF to take control of the chaotic situation‚ culminating with the belated ultimatum to the two clubs.
Sundowns had to cancel their trip for their Group B game against CR Belouizdad on Thursday last week‚ as the club was leaving for OR International airport‚ after the Algerian authorities initially granted visas. The Brazilians were told on Thursday that the situation had changed due to “further medical restrictions”.
Sundowns are scheduled to play a Nedbank Cup match against Polokwane City at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on Saturday and the Premier Soccer League will determine whether it will be postponed.
Chiefs have no such problems as they were knocked out of the tournament by lower tier side Richards Bay two weeks ago in a shock 2-1 result that mortified Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt described as one of the most embarrassing losses in his coaching career.