Aubameyang goes missing, Ghana in tatters, Sikazwe-refereeing error revelations
Yaounde – Cameroon.
One of Africa’s mercurial stars is yet to feature at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) despite arriving early for the competition. It’s a tumultuous period for Arsenal striker and Gabonese marksman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. From being his club’s outcast to Covid-19 casualty.
Auba tested positive for the virus immediately his team arrived in Yaounde on 6 January. He was forced into isolation, eventually missing Panthers’ opener with Comoros (1-0).
Fans who gathered to watch Auba on Friday at the Ahmadu Ahidjo stadium were shocked to realise he was absent from the squad that held Ghana to a 1-1 draw.
Caf doctors advised Aubameyang, Axel Meyé, and another star player Mario Lemina should not play for two reasons: They were just recovering from Covid-19 and were deemed to have cardiac issues.
Aubameyang and Lemina have to wait until 18 January to play their first game against Morocco. That will be if Covid-19 doesn’t sting again.
Guinea frustrates Senegal
African vice champions Senegal were held to goalless draw on Friday in Kouekong by the Syli Nationale. Much to the surprise of pundits and fans who tipped the Teranga Lions tournament favourites. Aliou Cissé’s men needed a last minute penalty to grab all three points from Zimbabwe at their opener. Yesterday, the side ripped by Covid-19 cases were outclassed by Naby Keita-led Guinea. Embattled Senegal were still without Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, SSC Napoli fullback Kalidou Koulibaly and PSG midfielder
Idrissa Gana Gueye whom Covid-19 had deprived from their first outing. Gana Gueye and Fode Ballo Touré returned positive tests within 48 hours of Senegal-Guinea. Watford star, Ismaïla Sarr, jetted off to Spain for medical examination following his injury since November. Doctors are unanimous the fierce winger needs at least two weeks to fully recover.
In group B, Guinea and Senegal are tied to four points, one clear of Malawi who burned Zimbabwe out 2-1. Big suspense until Tuesday 18 January when Senegal and Guinea face Malawi and Zimbabwe respectively.
Ghana in tatters!
Four-time winners of the African cup Ghana has grabbed only one point from a possible six.
After slipping one nil to Morocco five days ago, the Black Stars failed to make amends against Gabon yesterday in Yaounde.
With the Atlas Lions already heading to the knockouts and Gabon sitting second (4 points), coach Milovan Rajevac who must not falter against debutants Comoros on Tuesday 18 January, will be needing a big favour from Morocco over Gabon. How Ghana can’t get their heads around group C is a story for another day.
Caf rules in favour of Mali
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has ruled in favour Mali after Tunisia protested over a refereeing error on Wednesday in Limbe. Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe sparked wide-spread controversy for putting an end to the game, firstly at the 85th minute, and secondly seconds to the regular 90.
Caf has dismissed the technical protest filed thereafter by Tunisia and homologated the game per the one-nil score obtained by Mali on the pitch.
Meantime the Zambian FA has confirmed multiple reports which suggested Janny Sikazwe suffered heat stroke. FA president Andrew Kamanga has reached out to Sikazwe in Douala.
“Sikazwe was struck by a heat stroke during the Tunisia versus Mali group F match played in Limbe,” FAZ said.
“The seasoned whistle-man is in high spirits,” it added.
Sikazwe – Fifa-listed since 2007 – handled the 2017 Afcon final in Gabon between Cameroon and Egypt (2-1). He was in Russia in 2018 for the World Cup.
Matchday 2 – Group D
After grinding out results against Egypt, group D toppers Nigeria are quite upbeat going into their encounter with Sudan on Saturday 15 January in Garoua.
Both teams have met thrice, Nigeria counting two victories over Sudan’s one in 2014. The Sudanese head into today’s game on an 11-game winless streak, losing seven and claiming four draws. A win for the Super Eagles, which is probable, qualifies them for the knockout stages.
On the flipside, there is pressure on Mohammed Salah and Egypt who face Guinea-Bissau. Both countries have met for soccer eight times. The Pharaohs count four wins against Guinea-Bissau’s two. The other two matches were draws.
For Egypt, Al Ahly midfielder Amr El-Sulya could return after missing the first match with a calf injury. Ahmed Fatouh, however, will be out after limping off in the opener. No major changes are expected for Guinea-Bissau.