Football

AFCON: Aubameyang exits Gabon squad with heart issues

Arsenal striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Arsenal striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will no longer feature in the on-going Africa Cup of Nations taking place in Cameroon.

This follows the confirmation that Aubameyang and one other player, Mario Lemina, have both been allowed to leave the Gabon squad on health grounds.

The Gabon national team coach said on Monday the duo have been released to return to their clubs to continue their recovery from COVID-19.

While Aubameyang is expected back at Arsenal, his national teammate, Lemina, will be heading back to his French side, Nice.

The two players are yet to feature for Gabon in Cameroon having missed both games against the Comoros and Ghana.

“Given the medical problems that Pierre-Emerick and Mario have had, in agreement with the doctor, the president of the federation and the players, we have taken the wise decision to send them back to their clubs so they can be looked after there,” said Gabon coach Patrice Neveu at a press conference in Yaounde.

News of Aubameyang’s positive test, and that of Lemina, emerged on January 6, just four days before their team’s opening AFCON group game.

The duo then tested negative ahead of Gabon’s second match, a 1-1 draw against Ghana on Friday, but both were again left out of the team after some residue from their infection was detected.

Neveu played down concerns that the players had developed inflammation around the heart following their infections, but the Gabonese Football Federation released a statement to say the pair would return to their clubs “to undergo further examinations”.

“There is no major cause for alarm regarding cardiac problems but we are not in a position here to properly analyse what damage could be done by the residue that caused the inflammation,” Neveu said.

“We can’t take any risks, and psychologically it was becoming unbearable for them staying in their rooms. So on Sunday we spoke and decided to let them go home.”

Gabon will be playing Morocco in their last group game on Tuesday, and a draw will be good enough for their passage to the knockout phase.

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