Sao Tome and Principe have been reinstated to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, replacing Mauritius just one day before the campaign’s group stage begins.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) Appeals Board has overturned the Disciplinary Board’s decision that Sao Tome had fielded an ineligible player during their preliminary round tie.
With the group stage of the qualifiers set to begin on Wednesday, CAF has announced that Sao Tome’s appeal has been “upheld” and the Caf Disciplinary Board’s decision has been “set aside in its entirety.”
Sao Tome and Principe will join Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone in Group A of the 2023 Nations Cup qualifiers.
Mauritius was scheduled to play Guinea-Bissau on June 9, but arrangements must now be made for Sao Tome to play instead.
The game will be played in the Moroccan city of Agadir because Guinea-Bissau is one of several African countries without a stadium approved by CAF to host international matches.
Sao Tome and Principe are scheduled to host their next qualifier against Nigeria on June 13, with a venue yet to be determined.
The Mauritius Football Association (MFA) has requested a detailed explanation from CAF and is considering filing an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Initially, the MFA complained that Sao Tome’s Luis Leal had not followed the CAF’s Covid-19 protocols during the preliminary round qualifiers in March.
Mauritius claimed the Bolivian striker was ineligible to play against them because his PCR test was more than 72 hours before the match, when the protocol requires tests to be 48 hours old.
The 34-year-old scored the only goal in the first leg of their play-off, and that result has now been reinstated and ratified to overturn CAF’s disciplinary committee’s decision to award Mauritius a 3-0 win.
The second leg of the tie, which was played in Mauritius, ended in a 3-3 tie, with the original Sao Tome winning 4-3 on aggregate. Sao Tome’s victory has been confirmed.
For the 2023 finals, a total of 23 teams will qualify, including the hosts, Ivory Coast.
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