Egypt had to withdraw from a qualifying tournament for the U20 African Nations Cup in Tunisia after more than a dozen COVID-19 infections hit the team, the country’s football association (EFA) said on Tuesday.
The young pharaohs were scheduled to face Libya in their opening game of a tournament organised by the Union of North African Football Federations (UNAF) on Tuesday but were one player short of the minimum number required to play.
PCR tests returned 14 positive results — 13 players in addition to the team’s coach Rabei Yassin.
The rest of the team members headed to the stadium that was due to host the game and submitted a squad list, but African governing body CAF awarded Libya a walkover win after a 30-minute delay to kick-off.
Egypt will now miss out on the Nations Cup, which will take place in Mauritania from 14 February to 4 March next year.
The EFA said in a statement that a private Egyptian aircraft will fly to Tunisia on Wednesday to bring the team home.
“It would be difficult to take part in the qualifiers due to the number of absentees,” the EFA said, adding that the infected players will continue their treatment at home.