Monday 2021-03-01

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ETOILE, 'BUFFS' CLASH TODAY

By SABELO GWEBU | 2021-02-23

ULTIMATELY, the second leg clash between Young Buffaloes and Etoile du Sahel will see the light of day. CAF confirmed that the game will be played this afternoon at 5pm local time at the Sfax Stadium. After glitches in their travelling plans, Buffaloes finally landed in Tunisia aboard Qatar Airways yesterday. Confirmed The team departed from Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport for Tunisia via Qatar. Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi Radebe confirmed the news in a statement. Buffaloes were supposed to play the game against Etoile du Sahel on Sunday but the match had to be rescheduled as the local side encountered difficulties in getting to Tunisia. Meanwhile, the army side could face another Tunisian opposition CS Sfaxien if they would be able to reach the group stages of the competition. This follows the group stages draw conducted yesterday where the winner between Etoile and Buffaloes was placed in group C alongside Sfaxien, Burkina Faso's Salitas and ASC Jaraaf of Senegal. The local envoys will have to score two or more unanswered goals at the very least against Etoile du Sahel to confirm their name in the group stages after the first leg 2-1 defeat at Mavuso Sports Centre.

................EFA distances itself from 'Buffs' travel dillema 

SOCCER - OWING to the much-publicised occurrences surrounding Young Buffaloes and their voyage delay to honour their second leg match against Etoile Sportive Du Sahel, EFA has made it clear that they are not to blame. Buffaloes had been originally scheduled to travel last Thursday, first travelling by road to connect a Qatar Airline Flight at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa to Tunis, Tunisia. On arrival at the OR Tambo International Airport, according to a statement from EFA, the airline indicated that Tunisia, as a country, had enforced a lockdown on travel, in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic and as such did not allow visitors to enter Tunisia. The airline advised that an exclusive waiver or permission be solicited from Tunisia to allow the delegation to board the flight. "This was accordingly communicated to Etoile Sportive Du Sahel (ESS)and the Tunisian Football Federation (FTF), who responded by writing a letter that accorded permission to Buffaloes to board the airline. Grounded “Unfortunately, by the time this letter arrived, boarding had already been closed thus the team was grounded in Johannesburg to pursue alternative travel measures," the statement read in part. The army side attained an alternative flight, being Air France, which was to depart the subsequent night, hence they had to overnight in Johannesburg. At the time of the confirmation of bookings and checking-in the following day (Friday), Air France, unpredictably, given that Buffaloes already had in possession documentation believed to be an exclusive permission to enter into Tunisia obtained from the host association and club, stated that there was a strict embargo on people coming out of South Africa into Tunisia and as such, they were not satisfied with the letters that had been provided by the host club (ESS) and FTF, in the process demanding a letter directly written by the government of Tunisia to allow the team to travel. "This impulsive stance by Air France was communicated back to the hosting club and football federation in Tunisia, who approached their government, with the demanded letter eventually being received on Saturday in the evening, which too arrived very late for the team to board. The team had to overnight for yet another day and further solicit for yet another alternative travel flight," it continued. By this time it was discovered on this very letter from the Tunisian government, that people travelling to Tunisia had to carry a Covid-19 negative test that is within 48 hours, which was now different from the normal 72 hours.

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