Afcon 2023: Sao Tome reinstated to qualifiers as Mauritius ruled out

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Sao Tome's Luis Leal dos Anjos during his time at Argentine club Newell's Old BoysSao Tome e Principe forward Luis Leal was ruled to have broken Caf's Covid-19 protocols

Sao Tome e Principe have been reinstated to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers to replace Mauritius a day before the group phase of the campaign begins.

The Confederation of African Football's (Caf) Appeals Board has overturned the ruling by its own Disciplinary board that Sao Tome had fielded an ineligible player during their preliminary round tie.

With the group stage of the qualifiers due to begin on Wednesday Caf has announced Sao Tome's appeal has been"'upheld and the decision of the Caf Disciplinary Board is set aside in its entirety."

It means Sao Tome will join Group A of the 2023 Nations Cup qualifiers alongside Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone.

Mauritius had been due to face Guinea-Bissau on 9 June, instead arrangements will now have to be made for Sao Tome to play instead.

The game is set to take place in the Moroccan city of Agadir as Guinea-Bissau is one of several African nations that does not have a stadium approved by Caf to host international matches.

Sao Tome are due to host their next qualifier against Nigeria on 13 June, with a venue yet to be confirmed.

The Mauritius Football Association (MFA) has asked for a full explanation from Caf and are also considering an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Originally the MFA had lodged a complaint that Sao Tome's Luis Leal had not followed the Caf's Covid-19 protocols during March's preliminary round qualifiers.

Mauritius claimed the Bolivia-based striker was not eligible to play against them because his PCR test dated more than 72 hours before the match while according to the protocol, the tests must date from 48 hours.

The 34-year-old scored the only goal in the first leg of their play-off with that result now reinstated and ratified to overturn the decision by Caf's disciplinary committee to award a 3-0 win to Mauritius.

The second leg of the tie, which saw both matches played in Mauritius, ended in a 3-3 draw and the original Sao Tome progress 4-3 on aggregate. win for Sao Tome has been confirmed.

A total of 23 teams will qualify along with hosts Ivory Coast for the 2023 finals.

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