Burkina Faso threaten to boycott Afcon opener

Burkina Faso's assistant coach Firmin Sanou (centre), captain Bertrand Traore (right) and a CAF coordinator look on during the pre-match press conference in Yaounde on the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations opener against hosts Cameroon on January 8, 2022. Photo | NMG

What you need to know:

  • In a protest letter to CAF, the Burkinabè Football Federation has said they are suspecting manipulation in the tests done earlier on Saturday night which results show nine members, including five players and the head coach tested positive.

Burkina Faso have threatened not to play the opening game of the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations against hosts Cameroon on Sunday if Covid-19 tests are not redone by independent doctors in the presence of their medical staff. 

About five players and coach Kamou Malo Saturday tested positive in the run-up to Sunday's opener against hosts Cameroon.

In a protest letter to CAF, the Burkinabè Football Federation has said they are suspecting manipulation in the tests done earlier on Saturday night which results show nine members, including five players and the head coach tested positive.

The pandemic has remained one of the major challenges of the continental soccer tourney as at least seven of the 24 participating teams have already been affected by the pandemic including Senegal, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Cape Verde, Tunisia and The Gambia.

CAF had authorized participating teams to increase the number of players from the usual 23 to 28 to ensure there would be substitutes in case of Covid-19 positive cases.

During the pre-match press conference, the assistant coach of the Stallions Firmin Sanou already argued that his players who had been declared positive for the virus were actually not positive.

“We cannot be told at the eve of the game that they (players) are positive. This is unacceptable,” Sanou said, adding that: “Officials need to think and bring a transparent team from CAF to come and conduct the tests so that we will be sure the players will not participate in the match.”

Skipper Bertrand Traore has deplored as "a scandal" coronavirus testing procedures at the Africa Cup of Nations. The Aston Villa forward told a press conference in Yaounde on Saturday: "It's a scandal, we cannot be deprived of first team players 24 hours before the match."

The Burkinabè delegation are disputing the fact that the tests were not PCR tests, which must be carried out 48 hours before the match, and have requested a second opinion. 

Traore said: "The authorities must review the organisation. We cannot accept this decision. We can redo tests of our positive players."

Additional reporting by AFP

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