YAOUNDE - Gabon captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival in Cameroon on Thursday, threatening his participation at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Aubemayang and teammate Mario Lemina returned positive results when tested on arrival at Yaounde’s airport, along with assistant coach Anicet Yala, the Gabon Football Federation said in a statement.
The three have now taken PCR tests to verify the results of the antigen tests, the statement added. If positive again, they will have to go into isolation and would almost certainly miss Gabon’s opening game in Group C against the Comoros Islands in Yaounde on Monday.
The Gabon delegation had travelled from Dubai, where they had been preparing for the tournament, which starts on Sunday and runs to Feb. 6.
Preparations for most countries, over the last fortnight, have been hit by players returning positive tests and having to go into quarantine. Senegal’s departure to the tournament on Wednesday was delayed by three positive cases and the Cape Verde Islands have had an astonishing 21 individual positive results at their pre-tournament training camp.
The 32-year-old Aubameyang played for Gabon on Tuesday, scoring as they drew 1-1 with fellow finalists Mauritania in a warm-up friendly.
He was released early from his club Arsenal to join the Gabon squad after falling out of favor with manager Mikel Arteta, who stripped him of the captaincy last month following a "disciplinary breach."
He last played for the Gunners in a 2-1 league defeat at Everton on Dec. 6. Aubameyang signed a new three-year contract with Arsenal last year but has struggled this season, scoring only four Premier League goals — the last of which was in October.
Gabon reported one positive COVID-19 case while in Dubai but said striker Aaron Boupendza had returned a negative test after a few days in quarantine and travelled with the rest of the squad to Cameroon on Thursday.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)