Kanu received his first international call-up to represent the West African nation last week and looked set to play a part in their crucial African Cup of Nations against Benin on Monday (June 14).
There was significant drama, however, in the fixture that had already been rescheduled from March after Benin refused to play the match, accusing Sierra Leone of foul play after being told five of their players had tested positive for Covid-19
The Confederation of African Football rejected the requests of both sides to award them the victory and ordered that the match must be played this month.
There were further complications as the stadium that was set to host the match, The Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown, was deemed not to be fit to host international football. Therefore, the match was moved to the neighbouring Guinea at late notice.
Once the Sierra Leone delegation arrived, however, they were told that the team’s Covid tests had returned six positive results, one of which was Kanu.
Again, the results were challenged and Sierra Leone this time refused to play. Keen to avoid more farce, CAF stepped in again and ordered the players retested and that the match must finally take place on Tuesday (June 15) instead.
Unfortunately for Sierra Leone, five of the six players returned a second positive test and were ruled out of the match. One of these was Kanu.
This forced him to sit out the match but there was some comfort in the fact that Sierra Leone won 1-0 and booked their place in the finals in Cameroon in January 2022.
Kei Kamara’s first-half penalty was enough to seal the win and set Kanu up with the chance to play in his first international tournament.