Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been forced to sit out Gabon’s Africa Cup of Nations clash with Ghana owing to fears over “cardiac lesions” following his recovery from Covid.
The Arsenal forward is yet to make an appearance at AFCON, having returned a positive Covid test upon his arrival in Cameroon.
In a statement released ahead of Gabon’s meeting with Ghana in Group C, the Gabonese Football Federation said: “According to the CAF [Confederation of African Football] medical commission, the players Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Axel Meye and Mario Lemina, barely out of Covid isolation, cannot take part in this match.
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“Medical examinations may have shown cardiac lesions. CAF did not want to take any risks.”
Aubameyang returned to training with Gabon earlier this week and it was hoped that he would be available to face Ghana in Yaounde, where he would have come up against Arsenal teammate Thomas Partey. It is unclear how long he will be sidelined but, having highlighted a potential minor heart issue, medical staff will likely err on the side of caution.
According to James McNicholas of The Athletic, “Arsenal have spoken with Gabon’s medics regarding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and are comfortable all is well.” Clubs and national teams are carefully monitoring players who have returned from Covid, with Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies diagnosed with mild heart inflammation this week following his recovery from the virus.
Gabon face an uphill struggle to reach the latter stages of AFCON in Aubameyang’s absence. With 29 goals in 71 appearances for his country, few would dispute that he is their most influential player and, as team captain, he will be sorely missed on and off the pitch.
They are well-placed to at least make the round of 16, however, having drawn 1-1 with Ghana to follow up their opening win against Comoros. Jim Allevinah rescued a point against the Black Stars, in a game which was marked by a retrospective red card for Ghana’s Benjamin Tetteh following a post-match brawl.
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