Gambia forced to cancel Cup of Nations warm-up games because of Covid

Gambia's national football team on Saturday cancelled their two preparatory matches for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations because of the high number of Covid-19 cases in the squad.

Gambia's Scorpions training for the Cup of Nations in Cameroon 2022.
Gambia's Scorpions training for the Cup of Nations in Cameroon 2022. © RFI/Sally Jeng

The decision came just hours before the Scorpions were due to play Algeria in Doha -- the other match was scheduled against Syria on Tuesday.

"Due to the unavailability of 16 of our 28-man squad, our friendlies ahead of the Cup of Nations against Algeria and Syria have both been cancelled," the Gambian Football Federation said in a statement.

The team's Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet explained via Facebook that the swathe of absences were due to "Covid, other illness, injuries and restrictions to travel."

The Algerians were less than pleased with the late notice.

"The Gambians decided unilaterally to cancel the match hours before kick-off on the pretext that they were lacking a goalkeeper!" said the Algerian Football Federation in a statement.

The cancellations are hardly ideal preparation for Gambia ahead of their first appearance at the biennial African football showpiece being hosted by Cameroon and which runs from 9 January to 6 February.

They open their campaign on 12 Januar against Mauretania, followed by Mali four days later and round off their group matches against Tunisia on 20 January.

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