Senegal’s latest team hit by virus days ahead of the African Cup


Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate, right, and Norwich City’s Sam Byram fight for the ball during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Norwich City at Selhurst Park, London, on Tuesday, December 28, 2021. (Steven Paston / PA via AP)


The Senegal national football team was forced to delay its flight to the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon after three more players and six members of the backroom staff tested positive for coronavirus.

The Senegalese Football Federation on Wednesday named the players Pape Sarr, Nampalys Mendy and Mame Thiam. They and six members of the management team tested positive on Tuesday when the team was to fly to Cameroon, the association informs.

The league said the team should now leave on Wednesday. It did not say whether the three players and officials would also travel or remain in Dakar in isolation, only that it had “taken arrangements for effective care of the people affected.”

The African Cup starts on Sunday and Senegal have shortly before their first match in the tournament against Zimbabwe on Monday. Senegal, with stars such as Liverpool striker Sadio Mane and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, are one of the favorites after losing in the final of the recent African Cup.

The news of several virus cases underscores fears that the pandemic and the recent emergence of the more contagious omicron variant will cause chaos in the build-up and at the African Cup in Cameroon, where less than 3% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to a tracker kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Cape Verde and Tunisia have also reported new incidents in their teams, while Gambia and Ivory Coast were forced to cancel warm-up matches due to outbursts in their teams. Malawi has left three players in Saudi Arabia where the team had a training camp because they tested positive. Nigeria left striker Victor Osimhen from Italian club Napoli out if its African Cup squad due to his positive virus test.

Senegal already had the complication that Cheikhou Kouyaté and Alfred Gomis tested positive and stayed with their European clubs to see periods of isolation.


Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa. Associated Press writer Peter Kanjere in Blantyre, Malawi, contributed to this story.


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