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Afcon 2021: Bertrand Traore the latest Nations Cup star to test Covid positive

9:43 PM SGT 12/1/22
Tolo Nouhou of Cameroon (r) challenged by Bertrand Traore of Burkina Faso.
The opening week of the Afcon has seen almost every team impacted by the coronavirus as coaches struggle to juggle their playing personnel

Burkina Faso talisman and Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore has become the latest Africa Cup of Nations star to receive a positive Covid diagnosis as the tournament continues to be beset by cases of the virus.

The Stallions coach Kamou Malo, who himself has only just recovered from the illness, confirmed the news in Wednesday’s press conference at the Stade d’Olembe ahead of the West Africans’ second group game on Thursday.

The news comes as a bitter blow for Burkina Faso, who must now contend with the loss of their captain—and best player—as they go in search of their first points of the tournament.

The Stallions took the lead against hosts Cameroon in their Nations Cup opener on Sunday—with Gustavo Sangare volleying them ahead after an error by Andre Onana—but succumbed following a pair of Vincent Aboubakar penalties late in the first half.

It was a controversial fixture, with Burkina Faso rattled by a VAR penalty call that went against them, and came after a turbulent build-up in which the Stallions received five positive Covid cases on the eve of the tournament.

They cried foul after arguing that the coronavirus testing procedure they were subjected to did not match the protocols outlined by Caf, but the results stood and they were denied several key players for their opener.

Edmond Tapsoba and Oula Abbas Traore have subsequently returned negative tests, while Dango Ouattara and Saidou Simpore will also have to miss their second group game after testing positive for the virus.

Now they must contend without Traore, who becomes the latest big name after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy to sit out of a fixture at the continental showpiece following a positive Covid test.

Having lost their opener, Burkina Faso find themselves under pressure heading into their second group game against Cape Verde on Thursday.

Cameroon face Ethiopia in their second match, looking to build on Sunday’s success, while the Stallions conclude their campaign against Ethiopia in Bafoussam on Monday.