Caf Confed Cup: Lartey’s Africa dreams dashed by Ajax CT withdrawal

Ghana defender Lawrence Lartey’s hopes of featuring in this year’s Caf inter-club competition with his new South African club has been dashed.

Ajax Cape Town have withdrawn from the African Confederation Cup citing an inability to secure the safety of players for what would be an arduous trip to Angola.

Ajax were due to face Sagrada Esperanca in Dundo on February 13, but had received no word from their hosts on what their travel arrangements would be to get to the venue, which is some 1200 kilometres away from the capital Luanda.

That not only puts their players’ safety at risk, but they also may not be able to get the necessary insurance cover for the team.

“Ajax Cape Town has regrettably been forced to withdraw from participation in this year’s CAF Confederation Cup,” the club said in a lengthy statement on Friday.

“We have been unable to secure the safety of our players for a trip to Angola despite multiple efforts to get all arrangements in place.

“We are bitterly disappointed that our players, who were looking forward to representing their country in continental competition, are now denied the opportunity of a lifetime but we are forced to put their welfare ahead of their dreams.

“Ajax Cape Town has been attempting for weeks to seek clarity from the Angolan Football Federation as regards the internal travel arrangements for the match against Sagrada Esperanca in Dundo on Saturday, February 13.

“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 problems with the 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 1200km and takes 18 hours.

“Confederation of African Football competition rules state no bus trip may exceed 200km to and from the venue where the match is to take place.

“The main concern for the club is the safety of the players. With no definite logistical plan, no specs of the aircraft and no guarantee of times, we were unable to secure insurance for our trip.

“The visas and vaccinations were done for our entire squad specifically for the CAF Confederation Cup. We were holding onto our flights and accommodation bookings until the last moment.

“The club finds that it would be irresponsible to travel without at least an approximate itinerary as well as without insurance.

“While we are desperate to compete and test our mettle against the best clubs in Africa … and to try and emulate the recent feats of Orlando Pirates in the same competition … we cannot take the risks we are being asked to take. It would be irresponsible to the Ajax players and particularly their families.

“We apologise to our supporters who were keen to see our progress in the CAF Confederation Cup this year. But we are certain they will understand we are making the best decision we can under trying circumstances.”

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