YAOUNDE, Cameroon, Jan 23 – The Comoros look set to name an outfield player in goal for their first ever knockout match at the Africa Cup of Nations against hosts Cameroon on Monday after Covid-19 cases and injuries left them with no other choice.
“We are laughing about it, we prefer to look at it like that, it’s comical,” said the minnows’ goalkeeping coach, Jean-Daniel Padovani, on Sunday.
“We have not yet decided who the goalkeeper will be.”
The Comoros, the surprise package of the tournament, announced on Saturday that they had 12 positive Covid-19 cases among players and management.
The 12 positive tests include both of the Coelacanths’ fit goalkeepers in Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada, with the third option, Salim Ben Boina, already injured.
Confederation of African Football rules for the tournament dictate that teams must play games as long as at least 11 players test negative for the coronavirus.
If no goalkeeper is available, an outfield player has to stand in.
Padovani joked that he was scouting for a new goalkeeper, but midfielder Nadjim Abdou suggested that it was unlikely to be him.
“I have always played outfield. You can’t just turn yourself into a goalkeeper for a last-16 knockout tie,” he said.
“But 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.”
The Comoros, representing a tiny island nation off the south-east coast of Africa, snatched their qualification to everyone’s surprise by beating Ghana 3-2 and advancing as one of the best third-placed sides.
Padovani added: “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.”