Comoros set to have outfield player in goal for Afcon tie

Jean-Daniel Padovani

Comoros' goalkeepers' coach Jean-Daniel Padovani speaks during a press conference at the Olembe stadium in Yaounde on January 23, 2022 on the eve of their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) match against Cameroon.
 

Photo credit: Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The Scorpions, who are one of the lowest ranked teams at the competition, began their campaign with 1-0 victory over Mauritania and a draw against Mali in matchday 2, before a surprise 1-0 victory over 2004 winners Tunisia in their last Group F fixture at the Limbe Omnisport stadium on Thursday to finish second in the group though with same seven points as group leaders Mali.
  • At their sixth participation, Guinea are seeking to better their 1976 record when they finished second.

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."

On their part, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, who were unbeaten at the group stages, will be seeking to continue their unbeaten streak when they face the Islanders.

Vincent Aboubakar and teammates will be be banking on home soil to go all the way.

On paper, Cameroon are more experienced and a better side compared to newcomers Comoros, but with upsets at the tournament, the hosts should be wary.

Meanwhile, Gambia, another newcomer at the continental showpiece will be hoping to also extend their three-match unbeaten streak when they face Guinea in their Round of 16 West African derby at the Bafoussam Omnisport Stadium in Kouekong.

The Scorpions, who are one of the lowest ranked teams at the competition, began their campaign with 1-0 victory over Mauritania and a draw against Mali in matchday 2, before a surprise 1-0 victory over 2004 winners Tunisia in their last Group F fixture at the Limbe Omnisport stadium on Thursday to finish second in the group though with same seven points as group leaders Mali.

At their sixth participation, Guinea are seeking to better their 1976 record when they finished second.

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