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Football

Burkina Faso feuds over COVID results before Cameroon opener

The Burkina Faso team during their pre-match press conference

Burkina Faso complains over COVID results.

Just a day before the delayed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in Cameroon, there is already a feud with Burkina Faso complains over COVID results in their team as ‘scandalous’ with five first-team players said to have tested positive.

Burkina Faso opens its account against hosts Cameroon at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde on Sunday night. The team has said the hosts are trying to win themselves undue advantage using the virus as a weapon.

A total of nine members of the Burkinabe contingent are said to have tested positive, four of them technical officials including head coach Kamou Malo.

During Saturday afternoon’s pre-match presser, assistant coach Firmin Sanou came in for head coach Malo and was distraught at the positive testes.

“We have four or five Covid cases, mainly first team players, we’re not going to name names. It calls everything into question, but we have confidence in the players who will replace them,” said the coach during the press conference, as quoted by AFP.

The assistant coach added; “Yesterday morning (Friday) a medical team showed up at our hotel for tests, when we tried to understand who had sent them, the CAF (African Football Confederation) clearly told us that they hadn’t sent them so we refused to do the tests,”

“Another team arrived at 10 p.m., apparently the CAF team, we carried out the tests which informed us of 4 to 5 cases of Covid. I say 4 or 5 because they say that our first player tested did not carry out the test … ” he continued.

Burkina Faso complain over COVID results

Burkina Faso skipper Bertrand Traore

Burkina Faso skipper Bertrand Traore was also pissed off with the COVID tests and said; “It’s a scandal, we cannot be deprived of first team players 24 hours before the match. The authorities must review the organisation. We cannot accept this decision. We can redo tests of our positive players.”

Meanwhile according to rules brought out by CAF, a team will forfeit a match if they cannot field 11 players for a game. In the event that they have more than 11 players, even if no goalkeeper is included, they are expected to play the match.

It is not quite the start that the tournament had anticipated especially after a troubled build up, but players will look to put the sideshows behind their backs when they line up for their matches on Sunday.

Burkina and Cameroon will square it up in the opening match with the hosts looking to start positively.

Cameroon head coach Toni Conceicao knows only too well the weight of expectations on his shoulders and the hunger of the Cameroonian people for African glory.

“It’s what they put on the table when I signed my contract: at least get to the final, do everything to win it. We feel that the people and history of Cameroon oblige us to do it. It sets the bar pretty high, but we’re convinced we can reach these goals,” the tactician said ahead of their first game.

Cameroon coach Toni Coencicao and skipper Vincent Abubakar

Skipper Vincent Abubakar will be expected to hunt for goals for the home side and he says there is increased confidence in the squad they will do well as they host the tournament for the first time in 40 years.

“On behalf of all Cameroonians, welcome to all the teams who will participate in this TotalEnergies AFCON. We will play hard to achieve a good competition. We are focused on our goal and prepared well for this competition,” the skipper said.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia who are returning to the tournament for the first time since 2013 will take on Cape Verde in the late kick off at Olembe and are keen to start off on a winning note.

They have been dealt a blow just before the first match of the tournament with star striker Shemeles Bekele ruled out with injury. In his absence, they will most likely rely on the scoring prowess of youngster Abubeker Nassir who starred last season in the Ethiopian Premier League.

Also a key member of the side is skipper Getaneh Kebede, one of three players who were in the team when they last played at the AFCON in 2013.

“We prepared for this tournament in the best conditions. It will us returning to this great African football show after a long absence. We respect our opponents, but we are confident in our talent. We are going to play our game in this competition. Our goal is not to just participate, but to show the world that Ethiopia has young talented players who can surprise,” said Ethiopia head coach Wubetu Abate.

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