Caf dismiss Burkina Faso's Covid-19 tests claims

Caf dismiss Burkina Faso's Covid-19 tests claims

Cameroon coach Antonio Conceicao and captain Vincent Aboubakar look on during the pre-match press conference in Yaounde on the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations opener against Burkina Faso on January 8, 2022.

Photo credit: Eugene Ndi | Nation Media Group

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has rubbished claims by Burkina Faso that Covid-19 tests on its players were questionable, saying the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)  tests were conducted by an independent institution.

Burkina Faso had threatened to boycott Sunday night’s tournament opener against Cameroon on grounds that the tests were not authentic and were part of a scheme to favour the hosts.

But in a letter seen by Nation Sport, Caf said that its Disciplinary Committee had established that the PCR tests were conducted and accredited by an independent international laboratory.

“Therefore, the results of the tests are authentic and cannot be disputed,” CAF said in a statement signed by its Disciplinary Committee president, Raymond Hack.

Five players of the Stallions of Burkina Faso and coach Kamou Malo tested positive following tests conducted Friday night in the run-up to the much-awaited tournament opening game.

However, Lazare Bansse, president of the Burkinabé Football Federation, in a protest letter to Caf said they suspect the results were manipulated and threatened that the West African country was going to boycott the opening game if the tests were not redone by an independent laboratory in the presence of their medical staff.

Assistant coach, Firmin Sanou and captain Bertrand Traore had expressed similar frustrations in a pre-match press conference at the Olembe stadium in Yaounde with Traore describing the test results as “scandalous.”

With the response from Caf, it is now clear the match will be played as programmed.

Coach Sanou said during the press conference that they have ambitions to do better than 2013 when they lost to Nigeria in the final.

“We have the means (to win the trophy this time) with all the respect that we have for other nations," Sanou said.

Hours to the kickoff, the city of Yaounde is boiling with football frenzy. Almost the whole city is painted with national colours, the Green-Red-Yellow. Across the city, fans are seen in groups singing and blowing vuvuzelas.

“We have waited for long. I was not yet born when Cameroon hosted this tournament in 1972, so this is our time to celebrate the once in a life time event,” an excited fan told Nation Sport on Saturday evening.

The match will be the third encounter between the sides and their second meeting in the opening game of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Cameroon defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 when the two teams first met in the opening game in 1998. They drew 1-1 during the group stage at the 2017 edition in Gabon.

According to Eric Deng, Sports Editor at Cameroon daily newspaper, The Guardian Post, the opener “will be electrifying” given the past meetings between the two sides.

“The Indomitable Lions have always dominated the Stallions either in the Afcon or other international competitions. Minus the Covid-19 controversy around the Stallions team in the last few hours, I believe we are going to have quality football encounter,” Deng told Nation Sport.