Sierra Leone's African Cup of Nations second-leg qualifier against the Seychelles has been canceled amid a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. Sierra Leone won the first leg of the two-leg series by a score of 2-0.
The virus has spread so rampantly that Sierra Leone's president has declared the country to be in a state of emergency. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has told the citizens of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea that they should avoid "non-essential" air travel.
The Seychelles recognized the serious threat posed by the Leone Stars' presence, and told them not to board a flight in Nairobi, Kenya, that would have brought them to the islands of the Seychelles. "We may face sanctions, we can be banned for three years and even face financial repercussions (for cancelling the match)," said Elvis Chetty, head of the Seychelles Football Federation (SFF).
While the Seychelles realized that they could have been in danger, Sierra Leone could have perhaps taken some precautions. Most of Sierra Leone's roster is based overseas, but there are still four players who play in the domestic league. Given the travel advisory in place, it's incredible that Sierra Leone still opted to take these four fringe players who could have potentially been carriers and spread the virus to an area that has not yet been affected.
According to the picture below from his Instagram account, Michael Lahoud did not stop in Sierra Leone during his trip.
As a result of the forfeit, Sierra Leone has advanced to the group stage of AFCON qualifying. The Leone Stars have been placed into a tough Group D, as they will go up against Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Group play will begin in early September.