Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has concerns about the release of Ghana duo Jordan Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp for an upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in South Africa, advising that the game be moved to a different country.
The Black Stars are set to face Bafana Bafana on the penultimate matchday of the series on March 25, three days before hosting Sao Tome and Principe in Accra.
A game in South Africa will prevent Ayew and Schlupp from returning to Palace as the country is among a list of countries on the UK’s red list, who are barred from entering their jurisdiction in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
Countries on the red list are considered to pose high risk of contracting the disease.
Almost all arrivals into the UK from outside the red-listed countries must also quarantine for 10 days, a requirement that will rule players out of immediate Premier League action should they head for international duty in the coming break.
“I don’t think we have much choice,” Hodgson said when asked if he would permit or limit travel, his club’s official website reports.
“I don’t think the [UK] Government will allow travel to South Africa. So I don’t understand if South Africa is on a banned list how we can happily allow our players to go. It’s out of our hands, to be honest.
“As far as others are concerned, I understand my colleagues’ [other managers] concern over players going to play for the national team when others [require] quarantine.
“I only hope the Premier League will assure us that when players return to the bubble they’ve left from a bubble with their national team, they won’t be punished by not being able to train or play. That would be very, very harsh.”
Aside from the Palace duo, Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey, Leicester City defender Daniel Amartey, Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu, Reading fullback Andy Yiadom and Brentford winger Tariqe Fosu will all be barred from returning to their clubs in England should they join Ghana to South Africa.
Lately, rumours have been rife in the media that the West Africans have sent a request to Caf to have the match against South Africa played at a neutral venue.
Safa chief executive officer Tebogo Motlanthe has, however, dismissed the speculation, describing the news as “hearsay”.
“The fact is you want players to play for national teams, do well and come back to do well for you. You don’t want them to go with their national teams knowing full well when they return you won’t see them for 10 days,” Hodgson added.
“As far as the red-list countries are concerned there’s nothing to discuss in that matter – my suggestion is that Ghana and other countries with games in these countries should try and move the game to somewhere where players can travel.”
Ghana are not particularly in the good books of Palace as Ayew, among about six other players, returned to the club having contracted the coronavirus after a double-header of friendlies against Mali and Qatar in October last year.
The striker was consequently forced to miss club games as he had to self-isolate.