The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has reportedly agreed to postpone the second leg of the Champions League match between Zamalek of Egypt and Morocco’s Raja Casablanca. This came after nine players of Raja tested positive for the coronavirus forcing the club to officially request a postponement by CAF.
CAF sent a letter to the clubs playing in the African Champions League and Confederation Cup stating that the body’s inter-club organising committee has decided if a team registers less than five Covid-19 cases, their match cannot be postponed.
Meanwhile, the Moroccan health authorities have prevented the club from leaving the country following the spate of positive COVID-19 tests in the club. “The Moroccan authorities have withdrawn the special authorisation given to the club to travel outside the country,” an official revealed. Raja, who lost the first leg 1-0 at home last Sunday, were due to play the return match at the Cairo International Stadium this Saturday.
Four of the Raja team that started against Zamalek — defender Ilias Haddad, midfielders Omar Arjoune and Mouhcine Moutouali and forward Abdelilah Hafidi — are among those who tested positive.
Moroccan media also named midfielder Abderrahim Achchakir and forwards Anas Jabroun, Ayoub Nanah and Mohamed Zrida as the affected players. Celebrations after Raja this month became Moroccan champions for the first time in seven years have been blamed for the Covid-19 outbreak.
CAF’s agreement to the postponement is raising major controversy. Guinea’s Horoya were forced to play their CAF Confederations Cup semi-finals against egypt’s Pyramids FC in Morrocco despite travelling for the tie with a 16-man squad after 12 players in the squad tested positive for the virus.
The African football body also turned down a similar requests made by Hassania Agadir after seven of its players contracted the virus ahead of their CAF Confederation Cup semi final against Renaissance de Berkane (RB) which they eventually lost 2-1.
Meanwhile Zamalek president Mortada Mansour has rewarded the Zamalek squad with a $3,200 bonus each after a 1-0 away win over Raja Casablanca of Morocco in a CAF Champions League semi-final first leg.
“Each player will receive the same amount as a bonus if they win the return match,” promised Mansour.
He also added that a much bigger bonus will be offered if Zamalek go on to win the elite African club competition for the first time in 18 years.