Africa Cup of Nations debutants Comoros will be forced to use an outfield player in goal against tournament hosts Cameroon in their round of 16 clash in Yaounde on Monday after confirming that two of their goalkeepers have tested positive for COVID-19 while another is absent with injury.
Speaking in Sunday’s prematch news conference, goalkeeper coach Jean-Daniel Padovani confirmed that they will play an outfield player between the sticks on Monday at the Stade d’Olembe as tournament rules prevent them from calling another goalkeeper into the squad.
Padovani, who was named Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the season in 2008, also appears set to deputise for head coach Amir Abdou, who has also tested positive for COVID-19.
“We have met with the staff, talked things through, got all the healthy players together and tried to put things into perspective,” Padovani said in Sunday’s news conference.
“We have got some potential goalkeepers, and we are laughing about it, we prefer to approach it this way. It is funny.
“We have not exactly identified who will play in goal yet and even if we had, I wouldn’t tell you.
“There are some who have shown during training sessions that they can play as a goalkeeper, but it’s a strange situation, so we’re working through all possible solutions.”
Comoros have 12 coronavirus cases within their squad, including both keepers Moyadh Oussenini and Ali Ahamada, who started their opening day defeat by Gabon.
Salim Ben Boina, who delivered a heroic display against Morocco in their second match, including a penalty save from Youssef En-Nesyri, is also set to miss out due to a shoulder injury.
The Comoros players who have tested positive for COVID-19 are isolating in Garoua, where they defeated Ghana.
Nakibou Aboubakari, Yacine Bourhane, Mohamed M’Changama, and defenders Kassim Abdallah and Alexis Souahy are among those affected.
“We are trying to do everything in our power to find alternative solutions, but, without the coach, without major players and especially without our only two remaining goalkeepers, the situation is quite complicated,” Comoros general manager El Hadad Hamidi said in a video on social media.
Ahead of the Nations Cup, in light of disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) outlined the tournament rules regarding potential postponements or rescheduling of fixtures when teams find themselves short of players.
“A team will be required to play a match if they have a minimum of 11 players available who have tested negative,” read a pre-tournament statement from CAF.
“In the event of the absence of a goalkeeper, another player from the team must replace the goalkeeper, provided the total number of available players is at least eleven.”
While teams cannot fulfil a fixture if they have fewer than 11 available players, they must still take to the field if they have more than 11, even if they cannot call upon a recognised goalkeeper.
Comoros, who are ranked 132nd in the world, have followed up an unexpected maiden qualification for the Nations Cup with a remarkable run at the competition, where a 3-2 victory over Ghana secured their progress to the round of 16 and sent the four-time champions crashing out of the tournament.