Tension has gripped the Tunisian camp at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in Cameroon after almost half of the squad tested positive for COVID-19.
Tunisia carried a contingent of 28 players for the tournament and 12 of them have now tested positive for the novel virus, the Tunisian Football Federation (TFF) said on Wednesday.
“This evening (Wednesday) the players took part in a training session with 16 players present and the rest absent due to Covid-19 contamination,” TFF said on its Facebook Page.
One of the players that have tested positive for the virus is Wahbi Khazri, a 30-year-old who plays for French Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne as an offensive midfielder or as a striker.
Six other Tunisian players have tested positive for the virus since the start of the championship, one of them shaking off the virus, Mohamed Drager who plays at the right-back and the fingers are crossed with the team hoping that five more players will test negative ahead of Thursday’s decider.
“Tuesday, the tests revealed the contamination of Ali Maaloul, Aymen Dahmen, Ghailene Chaalali, Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Wahbi Khazri, Ali Jemal and Mohamed Amine Ben Hmida who have been isolated from the group,” added the federation.
The north African nation is yet to seal a spot in the last 16 round and their preparations for their final group stage match, the key to their qualification, have been played thrown into disarray by the virus.
The 2004 champions are third in Group F with three points and are up against Group leaders Gambia in their final match tonight, with a qualification in sight.
The Carthage Eagles, are just a point adrift of Gambia and second-placed Mali and just need a draw to make it to the last 16 round.
Tunisia already suffered heartbreak in their opening 1-0 loss to Mali that witnessed controversial calls by Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe and will seek to avoid any further disappointments.