Comoros will field an outfield player in goal for their Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 tie against Cameroon after seeing their conventional shot-stopping options eliminated amid a COVID-19 and injury crisis.
The island nation pulled off a huge upset by qualifying for the round of 16 on their first appearance in the competition’s final tournament, and will now take on the Indomitable Lions in form who lit up the group stage with seven goals.
But the Coelacanths squad has been decimated, and now they will have to play an outfielder between sticks.
What happened to the goalkeepers of the Comoros?
Currently, two of the country’s three goalkeepers, Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada, have tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Monday’s match, while starter Salim Ben Boina is injured. Comoros will still be forced to take the field if they have 11 players available, regardless of their position.
That could be difficult, as it’s not just the goalkeepers who are suffering as well. In total, 12 of his squad have been ruled out by COVID, as has coach Amir Abdou.
“We try to deal with it as best we can,” Comoros general manager El Hadad Himidi explained. “Without the coach, some important players and the two remaining goalkeepers, the situation is quite difficult.”
Speaking ahead of Cameroon’s tie on Monday, Comoros assistant coach Jean-Daniel Padovani confirmed that an outfielder has been chosen to play in goal as the underdogs try to reach the quarter-finals.
“We have already chosen an outfield player who will start as a goalkeeper… He is a player who has shown in training that he can play as a goalkeeper,” Padovanni told reporters, but did not confirm who will be chosen.
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Comoros pulled off one of the biggest upsets yet at this year’s AFCON by eliminating continental giant Ghana. The Black Stars fell 3-2 in a thrilling clash to bow out of the tournament in the group stage, while their opponents secured a place in the Round of 16 as one of the third-best teams.
Now another tough challenge looms in the form of Cameroon, who won their group undefeated, with the winner meeting either Guinea or Gambia in the quarter-finals.
Cameroon have been fabulous, scoring in group stage cluster three behind captain Vincent Aboubakar, who managed five of them. The hosts are one of the few African nations to really make their mark in the group stage, with many of the pods finishing tight at the top.