Ajax Cape Town withdraw from Confederation Cup

By Mark GleesonBBC Sport
Ajax Cape Town in action against Sporting Club de Portugal
Ajax Cape Town in action against Sporting Club de Portugal

Ajax Cape Town withdraw from the Confederation Cup because of concerns over how they will travel to face Angolan side Sagrada Esperanca.

The South Africans had been scheduled to play Sagrada Esperanca in Dundo on Saturday but now face a three-year ban from continental club competition.

Ajax insist Angolan officials have refused to provide details of domestic travel arrangements for the match.

And the club says it has pulled out to ensure the safety of its players.

The South African club revealed it has been unable to obtain insurance for their trip to Dundo, which is some 1120km from the Angolan capital Luanda, because they do not know on which airline they will travel.

Confederation of African Football rules state that internal domestic travel is the responsibility of the host association but repeated attempts by Ajax to find out how they will travel between Luanda and Dundo have produced no information.

"All they told us was 'get yourselves to Luanda and we'll sort out the rest'. But we want to know more precise detail than that," said Ajax coach Roger de Sa.

"We don't know if we are on a IATA-affiliated airline, because if not we have no insurance.

"We don't know where they are taking us and how much time they will force us to be in a bus. We have sent e-mail after e-mail but got no satisfactory response," he told BBC Sport.

"We get the feeling they are deliberately keeping us in the dark so that they can try and fatigue us with the internal travel arrangements."

Visiting teams do not have to take bus trips longer than 200km in Caf competitions and so it is likely Ajax would have fly from Luanda to Dundo, usually a two-hour flight.

'12,000-kilometre road trip'

An Ajax club statement on Friday said: "It is the responsibility of Angola to ensure internal travel but they have been unwilling, despite our numerous requests by e-mail and fax, to give us details of our internal flights.

"We have been in almost daily contact, left to plead for information but have been kept in the dark.

"Our own investigations reveal that there are problem with airport in Dundo, where the match is scheduled to take place.

"It is currently closed due to construction upgrades. The nearest alternative airport is Lucapa. However, the landing strip consists only of gravel which means that only certain types of aircrafts are able to land there.

"It is not possible to travel to Dundo by bus from Luanda, where we are due to arrive from Cape Town. It is a road trip of 12,000km and takes 18 hours."

Late withdrawals by clubs from Caf competition automatically invoke a three year ban. Already Wallidan of the Gambia have pulled out of this year's competition for financial reasons.

Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows are two South African clubs previously been banned in similar circumstances.