AFCON: Virus cases in Egypt, more problems in Gabon

After substitute goalkeeper Mohamed Abu Ghabar and goalkeeper coach Essam Hadari tested positive for the coronavirus, the Egyptian team postponed the start of Friday’s African Cup of Nations football game.

Egypt is now scheduled to fly from Cairo to Cameroon on Saturday without Abu Ghabar and Hadari. Egypt is just the latest of many African Cup teams, and their preparations have been affected by the pandemic.

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The Egyptian Football Association said that Abou Gabal and el-Hadary tested positive on Thursday and they will miss the game.

“Unprecedented times. The more difficult the situation, the more united and stronger we are,” Egyptian coach Carlos Queiroz wrote on Twitter.

Egypt, captained by Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, started its Africa Cup match against Nigeria in a group match on Tuesday.

Of the 24 teams participating in the one-month Africa Cup, almost every team has been more or less affected by the virus during the assembly process. Due to the team infection, Burkina Faso may not be able to field a strong team in the first game against host Cameroon.

Gabon also has a virus problem. It has now rejected a hotel designated by the African Cup organizers in Yaoundé and may be sanctioned for moving to another base without permission.

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Gabon captain and Arsenal forward Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, midfielder Mario Lemina and assistant coach Anisette Yala were tested at the airport on Thursday after the team arrived in Cameroon He was positive for coronavirus.

The three tested positive after undergoing a rapid antigen test and received more tests to confirm whether they were infected. The results of these follow-up tests have not yet been announced, but if they also test positive, Aubameyang and Le Mina will definitely miss the team’s first game against Comoros on Monday.

Gabon transferred the team and most of its delegation from the designated hotel to another hotel in Yaoundé, claiming that the hotel provided was substandard.

The African Football Federation asked Gabon to make an explanation before Friday morning and stated that the matter would be submitted to the African Football Confederation Disciplinary Committee because the relocated hotel in Gabon is not on the approved list.

Cameroon will host the Africa Cup three years later than originally planned. It was cancelled for the 2019 race because its preparations were far behind, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, the race was postponed by one year from 2021. With the surge in global virus cases driven by the omicron variant, it will continue now.

The Africa Cup is held every two years, not every four years like other major football matches.

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