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Africa Cup of Nations

Exclusive: Aubameyang's Afcon return hanging in the balance

23:47 GMT+3 16/01/2022
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Gabon Afrika Cup 18012017
Sources within the Gabon Federation have informed to GOAL of the latest developments concerning the Arsenal striker’s physical state

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hopes of returning to action for Gabon at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations have been further dented after medical tests continue to reveal traces of coronavirus in the player’s system, sources within the camp have told GOAL.

The Arsenal striker has missed the Panthers’ opening two matches at the biennial tournament after testing positive for Covid-19 upon his arrival at Yaounde airport on January 6.

He missed the victory over Comoros as he returned a positive test, and then missed out on the chance to return against Ghana when the Confederation of African Football blocked his participation on medical grounds.

Cardiac tests undertaken on the player—mandatory for all Afcon competitors who return to action following a previous coronavirus diagnosis—revealed traces of Covid still in Aubameyang’s system, and not the ‘cardiac lesions’ that were announced by Fecafoot on Friday.

After the match, head coach Patrice Neveu—himself only recently recovered from coronavirus—clarified that Auba would be subjected to further tests, although there’s yet to be any reason for more optimism about the striker’s chances of returning to action.

“For the moment, nothing has changed,” a source within the Gabon camp told GOAL on Sunday. “They will do another test on him tomorrow.”

Gabon revealed that they had been hesitant to follow doctors’ advice and prevent the striker from taking to the field for the meeting against Ghana at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde, with Aubameyang himself initially refusing to accept the advice of doctors.

The Arsenal man was eventually talked round by his father, but it’s understood that Gabon are unwilling to risk the striker—and midfielder Mario Lemina, who’s in the same situation—until they successfully pass the cardiac tests that produced problematic results ahead of the Black Stars showdown.

"It can be possible that the illness has left an impact, but we'll do the MRIs, we'll see what happens and we'll do what's necessary,” Neveu said after the testy 2-2 draw with Ghana.

Gabon meet Morocco in their final Group C clash on Tuesday looking to secure progression to the knockout stage for the first time since 2012.

On four points, the Panthers are already virtually guaranteed a spot in the Last 16, but will top the group if they defeat the Atlas Lions in Yaounde later this week.

Ghana also face Comoros in Garoua looking to secure their progression to the knockouts, having taken just one point from their opening two matches.