Serious security concerns have been raised ahead of the upcoming AFCON tournament set to be hosted by Cameroon.
This comes from Simon Hughes at The Athletic, with the journalist noting that a handful of Premier League talents, including Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, could be put in danger due to escalating conflict in the region.
“Twenty-four teams will play matches in six venues across the country, one of which is in Bafoussam – close to the border of the Anglophone zone,” the reporter wrote. “Each of Senegal’s group games will be staged in the city and this will bring Liverpool’s Sadio Mane as well as Chelsea’s Edourd Mendy and Watford’s Ismailla Sarr (if fit) into close contact with an area of conflict.”
The danger hardly ends there as far as the club’s African contingent are concerned, with there being some concern over the potential safety of Mo Salah.
“The border with Nigeria has been described to The Athletic as ‘porous’ and there are sharp security fears about the staging of Nigeria’s group games in Garoua, an hour and a half drive into Cameroon,” Hughes added.
“One of their opponents is Egypt, for whom Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is the captain.
“The Egyptians will not be staying in the region and instead will fly for each of their fixtures from Douala in South-West Cameroon.
“The news that Cameroon’s security services recently conducted anti-terror simulation exercises, including a mock attack on a stadium, was certainly not missed in Cairo.”
There’s an obvious benefit for a club like Liverpool when it comes to the potential postponement or cancellation of this year’s AFCON – selfishly, it would help our chances of domestic success having our top goalscorer and Mane available.
That being said, it’s far from being selfish to expect a high standard of player safety at a major international tournament, particularly in light of the additional COVID-19 concerns raised.
If there is deemed to be a genuine threat to that, we at the Empire of the Kop (with all due respect to the AFCON) can’t see how the competition in question can be allowed to go ahead.