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CAF’s restart guide and impact on women football

In Europe and other parts of the world, football restart is on the centre stage with all the necessary protocols of COVID-19 observed fully. The players are subjected to tests twice in a week. Germany started it all based on commercial reasons and the Bundesliga successfully ended at the weekend with Bayern Munich as champions.

The league is yet to end in England, Spain and Italy, but Africa is on the verge of restart with CAF coming out with a template only last week. Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) held a visual meeting to take crucial decisions on the future of football. COVID-19 has done so much harm to the game and this forced many sporting events all over the world to either be postponed or cancelled outright. Women football recorded mixed fortunes after the CAF meeting.

It was a good development that the apex African football body gave its nod for the Women’s Champions League, which is billed to start next year, but the Africa Women Nations Cup earlier billed for this year was cancelled outright. Nigeria’s head of Female Committee of NFF, Aisha Falode, was elated with the decision of CAF to introduce champions league for female clubs on the continent.

Falode said: “People have advocated for it and desired it on the continent for the young women who continue to play good football all around Africa. We are ripe for this, we have over 33 countries scattered across the continent where organised women’s football leagues are played.” We urge all managers of football in Africa to ponder over the cost implication of playing football on the continent, which is huge and one wonders how the female teams will survive as the male teams are still struggling.

The format of the competition is also very important as it will be advisable to stage it in just one city like a tournament for a start rather than the home and away basis we have in the male cadre. The hasty cancellation of the AWCON could be a blessing for Nigeria as the Super Falcons of Nigeria are long overdue to have new set of players. Over the years, ageing Falcons’ players are still being used because there are limited tournaments to see the young ones. The Women Champions League will be a big boost to Nigeria’s quest to retain her position in women football on the continent. We urge the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to urgently name a new coach for the Falcons because other African countries are fast catching up on Nigeria.

NFF should also study all the resolutions of CAF in order to take decision most suitable for all the representatives of the country on the continent. The newly-introduced CAF Women Champions League should be used to identify fresh legs for the Falcons while the cancellation period should be used for a solid rebuilding process for the ladies. CAF, in its video conference meeting, decided that due to the COVID-19 crisis, Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 will now take place in 2022 with the dates to be decided later.

Followers of the game are surprised that instead of postponement of AWCON, the African body opted for outright cancellation. Also, the final tournament for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) Cameroon 2020 will now take place in January 2021. It was originally scheduled for April and Nigeria did not qualify. According to CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad, “the CAF Executive Committee is satisfied with the Cameroonian authorities for their commitment towards the hosting of the two competitions.

Cameroon is ready to host either competition and are within schedule.” We make bold to say that the decision of the continental football body was hasty. In another two months when the new football season will take centre stage in Europe and other parts, the situation of the pandemic could be better evaluated for the competitions hurriedly postponed. No doubt, we appreciate that football officials are putting safety of the main actors first, but the coast could be clearer by August/September, good enough for the preliminaries to be completed for AFCON within two months since there are three match days left.

On Inter club competitions, CAF ruled that CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup will resume in September with a Final Four format. Semifinal matches will be played in a single match. As the football chieftains battle to put the ladies on track to conform with the CAF decisions, it is also important to solve the riddle of the Nigeria Football Professional League. In the past two weeks, meetings have taken place with drama at various fronts.

he NFF and the League Management Company are yet to come out with an official position on whether to restart or cancel the 2019/2020 NPFL season. Stakeholders are divided even after 17 of the 20 clubs in the elite NPFL voted that ‘Points Per Game’ be used to determine the placing on the top of the league.

The teams in lower division struggling for promotion should be considered because we believe it will be unfair to rule that there will be no promotion into the elite cadre. All the elements of restart must be well evaluated by all those involved and decisions must be fair to all the parties.

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