Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Gabonese national team captain, tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after arriving in Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Aubameyang’s positive test follows the players’ strike over unpaid allowances and bonuses by the Gabonese FA, which occurred before they flew from Dubai to Yaounde, where they will play in Group C alongside Morocco, Ghana, and the Comoros.
Apart from Aubameyang, Mario Lemina, a former Southampton and Fulham midfielder, is thought to have caught the infection. Before flying to Cameroon, the two were photographed partying in Dubai.
Aubameyang and his international teammate Mario Lemina were both spotted in a video circulating on social media, which is thought to be from Gabon’s vacation to Dubai.
After being left out of Mikel Arteta’s matchday squad for a series of games, the Arsenal striker rejoined his teammates ahead of the Gunners’ New Year’s Day match against Manchester City.
Gabon Coach Patrice Neveu told AFP that his assistant coach Yala Anicet also tested positive after taking a lateral flow test and that he and the two players are currently awaiting the results of a PCR test.
“They had a PCR test and are now isolated in their hotel,” Neveu said.
Aubameyang, 32, has had a rough month after Mikel Arteta removed him of the Arsenal captaincy following a disciplinary transgression. He hasn’t played for Arsenal since a 2-1 defeat to Everton in early December.
Gabon, who are ready to begin their quest for glory in Cameroon on January 10 against Comoros, may have been unsettled by the matter.
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Gabon has returned to the continental stage after missing the 2019 tournament in Egypt, and their greatest results were in the 1996 and 2012 editions, when they reached the quarter-final stage.
Both Aubameyang and Lemina tested positive for Covid after landing in Cameroon, according to Mansour Loum of Sport News Africa.
After posting a ‘Happy New Year’ message a few days ago, Aubameyang published a photo from the plane to Cameroon on his Instagram stories.
The striker was stripped of his Arsenal captaincy after a disciplinary infraction, and the Gunners have apparently began researching the idea of selling him.
Newcastle United has been suggested as a possible suitor for the former Borussia Dortmund player, with Barcelona and Juventus also being considered.
If Aubameyang and former Fulham midfielder Lemina are both ruled out of the Comoros match, they will face a race against time to play in the remaining group games.
Gabon will play Ghana on January 14, with Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey expected to start for his country, followed by a match against Morocco four days later.
In the round of 16, the winner of Gabon’s group will face one of the third-placed teams, while a second-place finish will pit Gabon against the group’s runner-up, which includes host Cameroon.
Due to his international commitments, Aubameyang will miss a number of Arsenal games, including the Premier League’s North London Derby and both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
The first leg of the match against Liverpool has been postponed due to the presence of Covid in the Liverpool camp, but the new date is just two days after Gabon’s group stage draws to a close, and even an early exit for Neveu’s team would not give the players enough time to return to London.