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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Blow for Senegal as Covid rules out Chelsea star Mendy and Alanyaspor’s Diedhiou vs Zimbabwe

5:53 pm AEDT 10/1/22
Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
The duo will play no part when the Lions of Teranga lock horns with the Warriors on Monday evening

Senegal have been dealt another blow ahead of Monday’s Africa Cup of Nations Group B opener against Zimbabwe as Edouard Mendy and Famara Diedhiou will play no part having tested positive for Covid-19.

In the absence of the Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy, Queens Park Rangers star Seny Dieng - who boasts one international appearance - is expected to start against the Warriors at Kouekong Stadium.

Prior to this, Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly had turned positive for the virus and the Senegal captain was ruled out of the fixture against the Southern Africans in Bafoussam.

With this development, coach Aliou Cisse has only 17 players at his disposal because of several Covid-19 cases and contrasting injury worries.

Regardless, Cisse remains upbeat despite the setback: "It's a difficult and complicated situation,” he told the media as quoted by BBC Sport Africa.

"We are going to be competitive and those there are going to play for those who are absent.

“We are still going into the game against Zimbabwe full of confidence."

Even though the Senegal camp has been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, the West Africans boast of Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane, Crystal Palace’s Chiekhou Kouyate and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye in their ranks as they hope to emerge as African champions for the first time ever.

Before Senegal’s departure for Cameroon, Alfred Gomis, Saliou Ciss, Bamba Dieng, Mame Baba Thiam, Pape Matar Sarr and Nampalys Mendy were all left behind in Dakar because of positive Covid cases.

Premier League striker Ismaila Sarr and Royal Antwerp's Abdoulaye Seck may not be available for Zimbabwe because of fitness worries.

In the same vein, Senegal's Group B opponents Guinea and Malawi have also been hit by Covid, while Morocco will be without Aymen Barkok and Ayoub El Kaabi, when they square up against Ghana in their opener match, billed for Yaounde on Monday.

The Lions of Teranga are making their 16th appearance in the biennial African football showpiece since making their debut at the 1965 Afcon finals in Tunisia.

They narrowly missed the chance of ruling Africa at Egypt 2019 after losing 1-0 to Algeria in the final as Baghdad Bounedjah’s second-minute effort pipped them to the trophy at Cairo International Stadium.