Senegal’s national soccer team is experiencing difficulties; their flight to the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon was delayed after several players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the Senegalese soccer federation, the team was now due to leave Wednesday afternoon without the confirmed positive players (Pape Sarr, Nampalys Mendy and Mame Thjam) and staff members. After testing positive, Senegal is already facing the problem of leaving Cheikhou Kouyate and Alfred Gomis to their European clubs.
How will the teams finish in Group B?
🇿🇼 Zimbabwe pic.twitter.com/BGaujRxzVm
— GOAL South Africa (@GOALcomSA) January 5, 2022
As the tournament African Cup starts on Sunday, the federation still has a bit of time as it is scheduled to face Zimbabwe on Monday. After placing as 1st runner up and losing in the finals at the last African Cup, Senegal and key contributors Sadio Mane and Edouardo Mendy are fan-favorites to win this tournament.
#AFCON2021 kicks off in a few days with 24 teams, & with squad sizes now expanded to 28 per team, it means we'll have 672 footballers on display. Let’s take a look at players to watch out for in Cameroon.
SADIO MANE (SENEGAL)
He is certainly the focal man for the Teranga Lions. pic.twitter.com/2KfK5GhnTb
— Bet9ja (@Bet9jaOfficial) January 6, 2022
Living up to the competition has been challenging and delayed since the African Cup was initially planned to take place in 2021. Now, it’s being brought to light to potentially be held back once more due to the recent outbreak of a new coronavirus variant, omicron.
With that being said, European clubs have also shown their concern over sending their African players. Questioning whether or not the host country, Cameroon, and African soccer confederation organizers will prevent an outbreak throughout the event.
In response, the organizers would only let fully vaccinated fans and their proof of recent negative results attend and watch games. This would entail a high probability for the games to have near-empty spectators. This is in line with Cameroon having only 3% of the vaccinated population. The Confederation of African Football partnered with UNILAB, a pharmaceutical company, to oversee the testing of both players and officials.