BREAKING NEWS: Ghana’s group opponents Morocco pull out of the Algeria 2022 CHAN

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The home-based national team of Morocco, the Atlas Lions has withdrawn from the 2022 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) tournament which kicks off on Friday, a statement has confirmed.

The decision comes in after the Royal Moroccan Football Federation’s (FRMF) demand to travel on a direct flight on Morocco’s flag carrier Royal Air Maroc from the capital Rabat to Constantine, Algeria for their games was turned down due to diplomatic issues with the host nation.

Relations between the two Northern African countries have been strained and the FRMF had written to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) demanding authorization to travel on a direct flight to Constantine from Rabat. However, that hasn’t materialize, forcing the FRMF to pull out of the competition with just 24 hours to kick off.

Morocco who have won the last two editions of the competition were due to play Sudan, Madagascar and Ghana in the groups stages of the competition which is scheduled to be played from Friday, January 13 to Saturday, February 4, 2023.

The full statement from the Moroccan FA read:

The Moroccan Football Selection is unable to travel to Constantine (Algeria) to play the 7th edition of the African Nations Football Championship which will be organized in Algeria from January 13 to February 4, 2023 ( CHAN 2022) and defend his title insofar as the final authorization of his Royal Air Maroc (RAM) flight, official carrier of the Moroccan Football Selections, from Rabat to Constantine has not been confirmed.

As a reminder, the Management Committee of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), meeting on December 27, 2022, had taken a decision relating to Morocco’s participation in CHAN 2022, aimed at ensuring the transfer of the Moroccan Selection from Rabat to Constantine aboard a RAM flight.

Following its request for authorization of a RAM flight from Rabat to Constantine, the FRMF was informed on December 22, 2022 by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), as the body in charge of organizing the CHAN 2022, that an authorization in principle had been obtained.

On the basis of this authorization in principle, the FRMF has (i) communicated the details of the Moroccan Selection’s flight plan and coordinates in order to obtain the final authorization for the RAM flight from Rabat to Constantine and (ii) continued the preparation of the trip and the participation of the Moroccan Selection in CHAN 2022, in particular the preparation camp at the Mohammed VI Football Complex in Salé from January 6 to 10, 2023 during which two friendly matches against Ethiopia were played.

While the trip of the Moroccan Selection from Rabat to Constantine is organized by the FRMF and the kick-off of CHAN 2022 is scheduled for January 13, 2023, i.e. in 24 hours, the FRMF notes with regret that obtaining of the final authorization of the RAM flight from Rabat to Constantine has unfortunately still not been confirmed by CAF.

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