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SAFA: Amajimbos are safe at African Youth Championships in Niger
- Updated: February 12, 2015
The South African Football Association (SAFA) have allayed fears of South Africans following news coming from Niger that the country has declared a state of emergency following threats from Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram.
The national men’s U17 team, the Amajimbos, is in the West African nation to play in the 11th Edition of the CAF U17 African Youth Championships which kicks off on Sunday.
The South Africans are based in the capital Niamey, about 1400 kilomtres away from the border with Nigeria where rebels Boko Haram are waging a war against the government.
Niger declared a 15-day state of emergency in the border region of Diffa – the main city in the country’s far east, just across the border from Nigeria – after a spate of attacks by Boko Haram.
The declaration gives troops in Diffa new powers to search homes without a warrant and impose a curfew.
The curfew will force Diffa residents to stay indoors between 8pm-6am local time.
Said SAFA CEO Dennis Mumble: ‘We have been in constant contact with our team in Niger and so far all is well. We would like to assure all parents and family members of Amajimbos that they have nothing to worry about as the situation in the capital Niamey is under control.
‘We have checked with our foreign mission and have confirmed that fighting is only in the far east of the country, which is very far from where team is based and where the tournament will be played. All the teams in the tournament are well guarded and there is nothing to worry about.’
As is the standard norm with international major events, CAF and the Government of Niger have put in place adequate measures to ensure that the safety and security of teams, officials, spectators, media and all others participating in the African Youth Championships.
‘We would not at any point place the lives of our players at risk and should the situation change, which is highly unlikely, we will do what is necessary to ensure that the team is not harmed in any way and is back home safely. For now we would like to wish the team well in the tournament and we believe they have what it takes to make it to the top four to automatically qualify for the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup tournament in Chile later this year.’
Amajimbos have been drawn in Group B of the 2015 AYC and will begin their campaign with a tricky fixture against Cote d’Ivoire on Monday. Three days later they face Mali and they then round off their group stages match against Cameroon on Sunday, 22 February.