Al Ahly Team Delayed on Mali Violence

Players and officials from Egypt’s Al Ahly and Nigeria’s Sunshine Stars are stranded in Mali, after renewed violence on Monday.

Ahly played Stade Malien and Stars took on Djoliba in the African Champions League at the weekend. The Cairo club’s flight was delayed by bad weather, and then – when trouble broke out – the airport was closed.

Some members of the Nigerian party left the country on Saturday night but a small group remain trapped. “They cannot leave the hotel, on the instructions of the Egyptian embassy,” Ahly board member Khaled Mortagy quoted by bbc.

“CAF are responsible for the safety and security of our delegation” Khaled Mortagy Al Ahly board member added. “The good news is that the unrest is a bit away [from them], although sometimes they hear shooting.”

The Egyptian authorities are sending a military aircraft to Abidjan in neighbouring Ivory Coast, which will be on standby to fly the team home once the airport reopens.

Mortagy said the club had sought assurances from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) before the game that the situation in Bamako was safe and said the African governing body now had responsibility to make sure that the team was looked after.

“We showed concern but CAF said there’s no problem – so they are responsible to make sure of the safety and security of our delegation,” he said.

Stade Malien won Sunday’s game 1-0 and the two teams are scheduled to play the return leg of their round-of-16 tie in Cairo on the weekend of 11-13 May.

Mortagy said that if the team are delayed for a number of days then the club will ask for a postponement of the match.

The Gambian match officials who took charge of the Ahly against Stade game are also still in Mali.

The party from Sunshine Stars includes six players, two officials and a number of reporters who traveled with the team.

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