Comoros’ progress to the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages has been the feel-good storyline of the tournament so far.
The tiny island nation, Africa’s fourth smallest country and ranked 132nd in FIFA’s world rankings, stunned heavyweight Ghana 3-2 in the final group stage game to book its place in the round of 16.
Comoros’ reward for that historic win is a date with AFCON host Cameroon – another of the continent’s giants – and if that didn’t sound difficult enough already, it will have to do so without a recognized goalkeeper.
With first choice goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina already out injured, Comoros’ two back up keepers – Ali Ahamada and Moyadh Ousseni – have since been forced to isolate after returning positive Covid-19 tests.
There had been hope that Ahamada would in be able to play after then returning a negative test on Saturday, but the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) protocols stipulate that players must wait at least five days after a positive test before taking another.
“In line with the Medical Protocol sent to teams on 15 October 2021, and in accordance with the medical protocols of CAF, Mr Ahamada will not be eligible for selection for the match on 24 January 2022,” CAF told CNN in a statement.
That means Comoros head coach Amir Abdou, who himself was also forced into isolation, will now have to select an outfield player to go in goal for Monday’s match.
It is an unfortunate turn of events for Comoros, which has already made history by qualifying for its first AFCON and then subsequently reaching the knockout stages.
To make matters even more difficult, whoever Comoros decides to put in goal will face the daunting prospect of coming up against Vincent Aboubakar, the tournament’s top scorer.
Aboubakar has five goals in three matches so far for the host nation and is successfully filling his role as the team’s talisman and captain.
No pressure, then, for whichever player is chosen to be Comoros’ temporary goalkeeper.