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Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet has called for the postponement of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy, the most affected European country, is currently on lockdown with all Serie A matches suspended due to the outbreak.

This has affected the Gambia national team, which has numerous players based in Italy.

The Gambian Scorpions are set to play Gabon in a 2021 Afcon qualifier at the end of March.

“We cannot expect to play qualification games when some countries can’t use many of their best players – not because of injuries or personal reasons, but because of an international problem,” Saintfiet told BBC Sport.

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“Now we are talking about Italy, but there are also other European countries, like France and even Belgium where coronavirus is increasing a lot.

“We don’t know how soon it will go. Maybe in one week’s time, there will be parts of France also in quarantine and many African players who play in France will also be having consequences from that.”

While the chances of China-based players fulfilling national duty are slim, Saintfeit wants the March Afcon qualifiers to be postponed to June.

Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in some North African countries, Nigeria and South Africa.

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