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AFCON 2021: Comoros to use outfield player as keeper for Cameroon tie

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Comoros line up

Ahead of their match against hosts Cameroon in the round of 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations, debutants Comoros will be forced to use an outfield player as a goalkeeper after two of their shot stoppers were ruled out having tested positive for COVID-19.

Furthermore, their regular starter Ben Boina had already been ruled out of the tie through injury. The islanders had only carried three goalkeepers in their 25-man squad for their debut competition.

“We are laughing about it, we prefer to look at it like that, it’s comical. We have not yet decided who the goalkeeper will be,” said Comoros’ goalkeeping coach, Jean-Daniel Padovani.

The side, including the two goalkeepers have a total of 12 positive COVID-19 cases in their squad, with head coach Amir Abdou also being out.

Despite the massive setback, especially missing a regular goalkeeper, Comoros are promising to put up a fight to see whether they can cause one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.

Comoros celebrate their win over Ghana

“We are here to represent our nation. If we have to make sacrifices, either I or somebody else will do so. Whoever goes in goal will give everything like the 10 outfield players,” said  midfielder Nadjim Abdou.

Comoros earned their place in the last 16 as one of the best four third placed teams after a surprise 3-2 victory over giants Ghana.

“We are not going to go out there and be defeatist. It was historic for the Comoros to even qualify for the AFCON, historic to win a match, and historic to make the last 16. It is also historic if a team has to play a game with an outfield player in goal. We are making history,” Padovani, who will most likely stand in as coach in Abdou’s absence stated.

Comoros will however look away if they are to fancy their chances as they come up against the host nation, led by a potent striker in Vincent Aboubakar who has scored five goals in three matches for the Indomitable Lions.

With the pressure of the nation on their shoulders and a real chance of breaking years of wait, Cameroon are looking on for victory.

But their coach Antonio Conceiçao has warned them not to take Comoros for granted.

“We know that we are going against a good team from the Comoros. We have studied our opponent who remains difficult. It is true that it is not a team with a big name, but they have very good players. They are a disciplined team, focused and playing without pressure. The objective for us is to win to go further in the competition,” said the coach.

Meanwhile in the early kick off, another debutant, Gambia, will take on Guinea in what promises to be an entertaining affair. Gambia qualified as second from their group, only denied a top spot by goal difference after earning seven points.

Gambia players celebrate with keeper Gaye after he saved a penalty

Gambia could become just the second 21st century debutants not to lose any of their first four matches in the competition, after Madagascar in 2019.

Meanwhile, Guinea are looking to win their first knock-out match at the Africa Cup of Nations at the sixth attempt, having lost all five of their previous such attempts, losing in the Round of 16 most recently in 2019 (0-3 against Algeria).

“We have reached an important stage and I told my players we have to treat the game as a final. In 2019 we were knocked out on the same stage, but we want it better this time round. We have to be very careful approaching the game against a very good Gambia team,” said Kaba Diawara, the Guinea head coach.

Gambia are meanwhile looking to continue their fairy tale run.

“Guinea are the favorites, but that actually gives us a lot of motivation because we are in the knockout stages in our first appearance. We are not afraid as we have been together with the players for over three years, meaning we have cohesion and great team spirit,” said Gambia coach Tom Saintfiet who coached Guinea tactician Diawara during his time as a player in Qatar.

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