Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and striker Famara Diedhiou will join captain Kalidou Koulibaly on the sidelines for Senegal’s opening match at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon after both tested positive for COVID-19, the country’s football federation said on Sunday.
That leaves Senegal, already hit by six positive cases before they departed for the tournament, with a threadbare squad for their opening Group B clash against Zimbabwe in Bafoussam on Monday.
Koulibaly’s positive test was revealed by his club Napoli on Saturday, who said he was vaccinated and asymptomatic.
The Senegal federation then confirmed the Chelsea goalkeeper and Turkey-based striker, formerly with Bristol City, were in isolation.
Saliou Ciss, Bamba Dieng, Mame Baba Thiam, Pape Matar Sarr, Nampalys Mendy and second choice goalkeeper Alfred Gomis all remained in Dakar on Wednesday after testing positive as the team was to depart for the finals.
Ismaila Sarr, who Senegal insisted join their squad from Watford, is not available because of injury, as is Abdoulaye Seck, leaving coach Aliou Cisse with just 17 players.
“It’s a difficult and complicated situation,” Cisse told a news conference in Bafoussam on Sunday. “But we are going to be competitive and those there are going to play for those who are absent.
“We are still going into the game against Zimbabwe full of confidence.”
The Confederation of African Football has laid down strict rules regarding COVID-19.
If any player tests positive they will not be authorised to go to the stadium or participate in the match, while teams must play as long as they have a minimum of 11 players available If they have no goalkeeper available, another player must play in that position.
Teams that do not have a minimum of 11 players available will be considered to have lost the match 2-0, according to CAF.