On Sunday, the most important match that includes worldwide groups to be performed for the reason that coronavirus pandemic started ended as Morocco gained the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Cameroonian soil.
The match for gamers based mostly of their home African leagues featured 16 groups and 4 stadiums in three totally different cities: Douala, Limbe and Yaounde.
One of many main threats was after all Covid-19 and though all however three delegations have been affected by the virus, not solely did the groups play all their video games however there have been no delays to matches both.
Earlier than the match, Fifa president Gianni Infantino stated it was “necessary to point out to the world we are able to organise such video games in Cameroon, in Africa, to offer hope to the world that 2021 will see normality come again.”
So how did the CHAN go? BBC Sport Africa has been having a look.
Regardless of the measures put in place to guard groups, 13 of the 16 delegations reported failed Covid-19 assessments whereas 16 officers – together with referees – working for the Confederation of African Soccer (Caf) have been additionally affected.
On the eve of the match, Caf introduced that gamers have been to be examined 48 hours earlier than each match, with some 10 gamers on stand-by to hitch squads ought to any of the latter undergo a severe outbreak.
In complete, gamers from 11 groups examined optimistic for the illness – with DR Congo the worst affected as 9 of their squad have been reported to have the illness. There have been although severe complaints by DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge, who had questions in regards to the effectivity of among the testing.
“It is not human what they did to us,” DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge insisted. “I used to be placed on remedy once I was not sick. I didn’t undergo from Covid and I’ve been declared as having Covid and that isn’t regular.
“I am not the one one. Our whole delegation went by this. I had gamers who could not play when in the end they didn’t have Covid. It is bordering on prison.”
All delegations have been speculated to reside in bio-secure bubbles of their motels, however there have been experiences of a number of breaches and champions Morocco twice refused to remain at Caf-approved motels.
“To restrict the probabilities of contamination … we felt it was extra acceptable to go to a small, very clear and really common lodge,” Morocco coach Houcine Ammouta defined.
Organisers additionally took motion to attempt to forestall the virus’ unfold in stadiums themselves.
Crowd capability was restricted to 25% for group video games and though there had been plans to extend this to 50% for each semi-finals and last itself, these have been scaled again – that means that the 25% capability stayed all through.
Whereas locals may recognize the underlying causes for the choice, one fan echoed the views of many by saying that the ambiance was badly affected.
“Cameroon has lifted up expectations however the pandemic has restricted the ambiance that usually comes with soccer,” he stated.
Cameroon has been affected by divisions alongside linguistic strains in latest instances, with the federal government having been battling separatist fighters since 2016 within the English-speaking North-West and South-West areas.
Host venue Limbe is within the South-West and on the eve of the match, safety fears have been heightened as a selfmade bomb exploded close to the stadium.
Fortunately, there have been no accidents and the remainder of the match handed off with out incident.
The federal government had taken numerous measures to make sure security on the match, together with extra troopers on the road, helicopters within the sky and a ban on motorbikes and taxis going inside one kilometre of the stadium.
With the likes of Liverpool duo Sadio Mane and Mo Salah and Manchester Metropolis’s Riyad Mahrez among the many African stars set to play in Cameroon subsequent 12 months, Europe’s main golf equipment will hope there aren’t any additional points.
One factor groups didn’t complain about was the usual of the 4 stadia, though there have been some considerations in regards to the coaching pitches which organisers might have to handle forward of subsequent 12 months’s Nations Cup.
All 4 venues – two in Douala, one in Limbe and one in Yaounde – are set to host matches on the 24-team Nations Cup in January 2021.
Residents of Limbe weren’t impressed by the impression the occasion had on their day-to-day lives, with many saying they have been left with out water as a lot of it was directed to the stadium as a substitute.
“Whether or not you have got your cash or not, you do not have water to drink,” stated one. “Not even water to bathe due to the CHAN. I do not suppose that is a good suggestion. The federal government ought to get up from their slumber.”
An extra three stadia may probably be referred to as into motion subsequent 12 months – a second one in Yaounde and one every within the cities of Bafoussam within the west and Garoua within the north – with Caf but to find out what number of stadia will probably be used.
However the organisation’s president was greater than happy with what he noticed throughout his brief keep in Cameroon, calling the match a ‘success story’.
“The world class stadiums listed below are one thing to marvel at,” stated Caf president Ahmad. “Cameroon … has been a terrific host. There are areas of enchancment however that’s the case in all places on the earth and we are going to work on them collectively.”
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