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Ivory Coast approves match against Sierra Leone amid Ebola fears

AFP
The Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, which will host the Africa Cup of Nations match between the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone
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The Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, which will host the Africa Cup of Nations match between the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)

Abidjan (AFP) - The Ivory Coast government on Tuesday relented and agreed to let the national football team play an Africa Cup of Nations match against Sierra Leone that it had banned because of Ebola virus fears.

Ivory Coast had been warned they could be excluded from the Nations Cup finals if they refused to play Sierra Leone, one of the countries worst hit by the incurable disease which has killed more than 1,500 people this year.

The Ivory Coast Football Federation said that most of the players, including Yaya Toure of Manchester City, Salomon Kalou of Hertha Berlin and Gervinho of AS Roma had arrived in Abidjan on Monday to prepare for Sunday's game.

The government had repeatedly refused to allow the qualifying game to be held in Abidjan. But a new statement said: "The National Security Council authorises the holding of the Ivory Coast against Sierra Leone match."

It added that the decision was taken after the Sierra Leone federation had given a guarantee that no member of its delegation had been in a country affected by the Ebola virus for the 21 days before the match.

After the Ivory Coast game, Sierra Leone will play a home game against Democratic Republic of Congo in the DR Congo city of Lubumbashi.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been the countries worst hit by the crisis.

Sierra Leone had already promised that all of its players for the Nations Cup qualifying game would be foreign based professionals so that they did not need medical clearance.

Ivory Coast banned the hosting of all international sport in the country last month in a bid to keep Ebola out.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) had warned the country however that it risked being thrown out of the tournament if they refused to play. The finals are in Morocco in January.

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