Namibia are blaming a financial squeeze on their decision to withdraw from the opening round of qualifiers for next year’s U-23 Africa Cup of Nations, BBC Sports reports.

The qualifiers will determine which countries represent the continent at the 2022 Olympics in Tokyo.

Namibia pulled out of their scheduled meeting with neighbouring Angola over the next week because they were unable to afford the trip to Luanda.

They were due to play the first leg on Friday in Luanda and host the return game in Windhoek on 20 November.

They were due to play the first leg on Friday in Luanda and host the return game in Windhoek on 20 November.

It means Angola have a walkover into the next round of the qualifiers against South Africa, who competed at the men’s tournament at the last Olympics in Brazil.

“We simply don’t have funds to take the team to Angola and it is a very sad situation as you could see the boys were looking forward to this campaign but now it’s all over for them,” Namibia Football Association Secretary General Barry Rukoro said on the organisation’s website on Wednesday.

“The money we have now has to be used for the Brave Warriors for this weekend’s game against Guinea Bissau. And so the junior teams are feeling the pinch.

“It is serious reputational damage for the Association as we are known to be ever present at almost all youth competitions and now this is happening and we have no choice but to pull the plug.

“We will still assess the situation with regard to the Under-20s going to the Cosafa Cup [in Zambia next month].”

Namibia’s withdrawal follows that earlier in the month of The Gambia, which has allowed Libya to advance to play Nigeria.

There will be a total of 13 first round ties completed by Tuesday, after which the winners will join up with Algeria, Congo, Gabon, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone (if their Fifa ban is lifted by then), South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe in the second round in March.

There will be a final round of knockout matches over two legs in June to determine the seven countries who will join hosts Egypt at the tournament in November next year.

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