Liberia coach Peter Butler says it is hard to see how the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals, scheduled for January next year in Cameroon, will go ahead under the current circumstances.
The coronavirus pandemic has stalled almost all activities worldwide with football not left out. Top leagues across Europe are currently on suspension as a result of the deadly epidemic while the Confederation of African Football (Caf) indefinitely postponed the 2021 Afcon qualifiers.
The 2021 Afcon finals are scheduled to take place between January 9 and February 6, but Butler doubts the continental showcase will go ahead.
“Afcon will not take place. In my belief, the most important issue is to get the leagues up and running again in a safe environment and as soon as possible. Until that happens forget Afcon,” he told FARPost.
The Englishman believes the 2022 World Cup qualifiers may still happen. His reasoning is that the global soccer showpiece “is so important to world football”.
“It’s the most lucrative tournament in world football and broadcasting and commercial rights are immense,” added the former Botswana coach. “Afcon will return at some stage, but 2021 will be interesting to say the least.”
The former Platinum Stars coach says the continental tournament brings so much colour and excitement to the football stage but admits “there are bigger challenges down the road.”
Meanwhile, Butler has thrown his weight behind his assistant coach, Chris Wreh, who Mamelodi Sundowns veteran Anthony Laffor accused of being “unprofessional”.
“I have no idea what was the cause (of the spat), Chris is my trusted assistant and a good guy, he wants the best for Liberia, same as we all do, and change can be painful and hard to take at times,” Butler said.
Laffor made his debut for the Lone Stars in 2003 and has made 46 appearances. “Anthony was a very good player and highly respected in SA and Liberia. However, Anthony has been besotted with injuries of late and that is the reason he has not been called,” he explained.
He added they had so many good players coming through who are ahead of the former SuperSport United star. One of Liberia’s emerging stars is FC Spartak Moscow’s Sylvanus Nimely. The 22-year-old has scored 20 goals in 93 appearances in the Russian Premier League.
“We should applaud Anthony for what he achieved in his career he has done very well in PSL. He is a great example to other young players what you can achieve.”
By Mthokozisi Dube