Akonnor: Suspension of AFCON qualifiers proper, but affected my plans

Author: Peter Sarbah
 Caption: Charles Akonnor- Positive
Caption: Charles Akonnor- Positive

Black Stars Coach, Charles Kwabla Akonnor, has lauded the decision of the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) to suspend the upcoming 2021 AFCON qualifiers due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

However, he admitted that the recent turn of events and uncertainty over the start of football had distorted his plans for the qualifiers even though the preservation of lives was of utmost importance in the light of the global health challenge posed by the pandemic.

''It has affected the football industry everywhere but the lives of the people are more important than anything else,'' he responded to a question about the impact of the COVID-19 on football and his plans for the qualifiers.

Admitting that the call to suspend their qualifiers against the Sudan on March 27 was in the right direction, the Ghana gaffer said all over the world, the game had been put on hold and the continental governing body did no wrong in halting the game so as to contain the virus on the continent despite the inconvenience the decision caused.

''I think it is in the right direction for CAF to suspend the qualifiers. They [CAF] are not the only ones because in Europe too, they have suspended all football matches and it is for the good of the people and to avoid the spread of the disease,'' he noted.

Akonnor observed that mass gatherings had the potential of spreading the virus and, therefore, playing the qualifiers would mean attracting a lot of fans to the stadium, which could be a recipe for the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Italy, Spain, Germany and England are some of the worst affected European countries and these places also contribute the bulk of players constituting coach Akonnor's squad invited for the double header qualifier against the Sudan.

However, the coach refrained from commenting on whether or not he would tinker with his squad, paticularly regarding players from the affected countries, when the game resumed.

''I don’t think I want to talk about the Black Stars now because the virus is deadly and we must all focus on fighting it to ensure we are all safe,'' he noted and advised people to observe the basic measures recommended by health experts to stay safe.