Sierra Leone has withdrawn it’s participation in the upcoming African Cup of Nations U-17 qualifiers citing financial constraints, Sierraloaded has gathered.

Sierrra Leone Stars SLFA U-17

A statement from the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) informing their withdrawal from the 12th edition of the African Cup of Nations U-17 qualifiers was made available to Football Sierra Leone UK and seen by Sierraloaded.

The next year’s continental championships slated to be hosted in Madagascar will run from 2 – 16 April 2017. The Sierra Stars were supposed to face Benin away at the Stade de l’Amitié de Kouhounou, Cotonou this Sunday, June 26, 2016, in the first leg of the U-17 continental qualifiers with return fixture on July 1.

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“We pulled out on Monday due to lack of funds and we have already informed CAF and Benin about that.”, The Head of SLFA’s media Abubakarr Kamara said ad the SLFA could face fine and Sierra Stars face suspension from the 13th edition of U-17 qualifiers.

Sierra Leone joined five other nations that have already withdrawn from the competition, they are Malawi, DR Congo, Liberia, Mauritius, and Zimbabwe. Benin U-17 side will automatically qualify to the Second Round of the qualifiers following the withdrawal of Sierra Leone.

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Madagascar’s 2017 Africa U-17 biennial international youth football tournament is the 12th edition – organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for players aged 17 and below.

Mali won the 2015 tournament for the first time in their history defeating a stubborn South African side, Amajimbos 2-0 in a thrilling final at the Stade General Seyni Kountche in Niamey, Niger. The top four finalists from the tournament will represent Africa in the 2017 FIFA World Cup in India.