Gambia v Congo Afcon qualifier to go ahead in Marrakesh despite Morocco earthquake

Match between Morocco and Liberia in Agadir was postponed on Saturday as death toll rises beyond 2,000

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake has devastated parts of Morocco and left more than 2,000 people dead. AP
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The Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Gambia and Congo will go ahead as planned in Marrakesh on Sunday, officials said, despite an earthquake claiming more than 2,000 lives.

The 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck late on Friday, 72 kilometres (45 miles) southwest of the Moroccan city that Gambia are using as a home venue because they lack an international stadium.

Another final-round qualifier, between qualified Morocco and eliminated Liberia on Saturday in Agadir, a coastal city 260km southwest of Marrakesh, was postponed.

According to the most recent figures on Sunday morning, the Interior Ministry said 2,012 people were dead and 2,059 injured, including 1,404 in critical condition.

Congolese and Gambian officials told AFP that the delegations slept outside their hotels in Marrakech.

"We expected the game to be postponed given the circumstances. Our hotel has been partly damaged," said the Gambian official.

The Congolese said: "It is hard to concentrate on a football match, crucial thought it is, after so many people died not far from here."

Gambia need one point to qualify for the January 13-February 11 Afcon as Group G runners-up behind Mali while Congo must win to finish runners-up.

Gambia will be the third west African country after Niger and Burkina Faso to play at the 45,000-seat Grand stade de Marrakesh within four days because of inadequate venues at home.

The deadly quake overshadowed seven qualifiers on Saturday with Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mauritania swelling the number of Ivory Coast-bound teams to 21.

However, Morocco will have to wait to play their final group game after Saturday's postponement.

In a Group K that had already been reduced to three teams and four matches – following Zimbabwe's suspension from Fifa – Morocco are assured of their place in the tournament, although a victory or draw against Liberia would see them qualify as group winners.

"CAF has agreed to postpone the match between Morocco and Liberia following the earthquake in Morocco," the African Football Confederation said on Saturday. "CAF will announce a new date and details regarding the match in due course.

"CAF expresses its condolences to the families who lost their loved ones, the Federation Royale de Football and the people of Morocco.

"There will be a moment of silence before the start of all [Afcon] matches on Saturday 9 September and Sunday 10 September 2023 to acknowledge and honour the people who lost their lives during the tragedy in Morocco."

Updated: September 11, 2023, 4:36 AM