CAF announces changes for Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Wednesday increasing players’ lists, alongside new rules regarding match results if a team didn’t show in case of positive COVID-19 tests for players.

CAF competitions witnessed several postponements this season since last March due to the pandemic; a fact that obliged the African football governing body to change some rules to ensure the future of the competitions in the new season.

Recently, the return match of the CAF Champions League’s semi final between Egypt’s Zamalek and Morocco’s Raja was postponed as the Moroccan team had several positive cases of coronavirus.

“In accordance with the guidelines of the FIFA and CAF health protocols against CoVID-19 and for the resumption of competitions, players testing positive for the virus are not allowed to participate in matches,” read a statement on CAF’s official website.

In order to allow the different teams engaged in CAF competitions to have a sufficient number of players to participate in the matches amid the coronavirus crisis, CAF’s Emergency Committee has adopted the following decisions according to the statement:

– For the competitions where regulations impose a list with a limited number of players (Example : Interclubs, Competitions with final tournament system…), increase the number of players by 10; (if for example the regulations impose a list of 30 players, the number will be increased to 40).

– For the competitions where the regulations allow the modification of the players’ list from one match to the other (example: AFCON qualifiers, Women AFCON Qualifiers…etc) : the associations can already travel with unlimited number of players which will allow them to replace any positive player in the PCR COVID-19 test.

– Following the increase in the number of players in the list, the following rule, which is in accordance with the laws of the game, will be applied for all CAF competitions: A team will have to make sure to present at least 11 players (including one goal keeper + 4 substitutes) to participate in a match, this regardless of the number of players that would have tested positive to the PCR COVID-19 test.

Match results

In case a team will not be able to participate in a match, the result of the match will be determined according to the below criteria announced by CAF:
a. If a team does not have the minimum number of players (11 players including a goalkeeper + 4 substitutes) to play a match, the team will be considered to have lost the match 2- 0.

b. In case a participating team cannot travel to the host country and/or venue of a match due to any travel or other restriction relating to COVID-19, the participating team shall be considered to have lost the match 2-0.

c. In case a host team cannot organise a match or was not authorised by its government to receive another team, the host team shall be considered to have lost the match 2-0.

d. In exceptional cases, the organising committee shall be consulted to take a final decision.


Regarding the substitutions during a match, CAF said that the number of substitutes allowed on the start list remains unchanged in conformity with each competition’s regulations.

Meanwhile, five substitutions will be allowed in matches on the third and fourth days of the AFCON 2021 Qualifiers.

No spectators at AFCON qualifiers

Finally, CAF stressed that all matches of the third and fourth rounds of the AFCON qualifiers must be played without spectators. The third round matches kick off on Wednesday and last untill Saturday.

“However, should a host association’s government approve that matches can be played with spectators, the host federation must obtain prior approval from CAF. The number of spectators shall not exceed 50 percent of the stadium capacity,” the statement explained.

“These measures are effective and valid only during the current context of the global health crisis due to the COVID-19,” the CAF statement concluded.

Isaac Darko
Isaac Darko is the lead Combat Sports writer for AfroBallers. He is an expert in Boxing, Mixed Martial Art and Wrestling reportage. Isaac is a journalist with newfound love for athlete management and digital media.

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