goalkeeper available, avoid outfield player in net

Comoros Islands goalkeeper Ali Ahamada has returned a negative COVID-19 test and will be available to play on Monday against hosts Cameroon in the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations finals, officials said.

Comoros were on the brink of being forced to field an outfield player in goal for the biggest game in their footballing history after a COVID-19 outbreak in their camp.

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Ahmad and fellow goalkeeper Moyadh Ousseni were both forced to isolate after positive tests last week, along with coach Amir Abdou and another five players.

First-choice goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina has suffered a serious shoulder injury and is out of the tournament.

But the 30-year-old Ahamada is now available in a major relief for both the Comoros and the Confederation of African Football, which faced the farce of a team having no recognised goalkeeper for a knockout match at a major international tournament.

The Comoros had been planning to put one of their outfield players in goal.

“We have already chosen an outfield player who will start as a goalkeeper. He is a player who, during training, showed that he could play as a goalkeeper,” goalkeeping coach Jean-Daniel Padovani told a news conference on Sunday.

The Comoros will have no reserve goalkeeper on the bench on Monday.

Coach Abdou also remains in quarantine and will have to watch the game from his hotel room.

He has been the architect of a remarkable rise for the east African island archipelago team, who qualified for the round of 16 against all expectations after a shock 3-2 win over Ghana.

Tournament rules state that 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.

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