Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabon Skipper, has been granted permission to return to Arsenal, in light of his persisting health issues during the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Gabonese Federation has verified that the Panthers captain would be able to finish the Africa Cup of Nations early.
After testing positive for Covid-19 on January 6, the Gunners captain has yet to play in the biennial African football tournament, and his comeback against Ghana earlier this week was postponed owing to medical reasons.
Patrice Neveu, the Panthers’ coach, has now revealed to GOAL that the striker will be permitted to return to Arsenal to have his persistent health issues — as well as the nature of the Covid-19 residual in his system — fully investigated.
What’s been said so far About Aubameyang?
“It was decided to send them back to their club yesterday,” Neveu told GOAL, referring to Aubameyang and teammate Mario Lemina. “We can’t judge it here [in Cameroon], we can’t evaluate Covid’s pathology.”
“It’s critical that Mario and Pierre return to Nice and Arsenal,” he continued. “It’s something we’ve decided on as a group.”
The Gabonese Football Federation later confirmed the players’ discharge from international duty in a statement.
“The Gabonese Football Federation has decided to return Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina to their clubs in order for them to undergo additional in-depth examinations,” read a brief statement.
So, what happened to Aubameyang?
Aubameyang, who had traveled to Cameroon with compatriot Lemina from Abu Dhabi, tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival at Yaounde airport.
He was forced to miss the Panthers’ first game, a 1-0 win over Comoros, due to his diagnosis, but following a negative test, he practiced with the team on Thursday ahead of their second Group C match against Ghana.
After medical testing revealed indications of coronavirus remnants in his system just hours before kick-off versus the Black Stars, his return ambitions were crushed.
Gabon informed GOAL after the match that they hoped that further medical tests would allow both Aubameyang and Lemina to return to action, yet sources within the camp said on Sunday that further medical examinations had indicated no change in conditions.
On Sunday, before of Tuesday’s final group match against Morocco, the decision was made to allow both players to return to their clubs.
“It’s quite difficult,” Neveu continued. “I’m not new to this team; I’ve been working with Gabon for three years, and happily, Caf allowed us to have a group of 28 men.”
“However, it’s a lot for this team to lose Pierre-Emerick and Mario. We don’t have the strength of Nigeria’s or Morocco’s squads, and we realize we’re up against it.”
Gabon, who have four points from two games, is aiming to advance to the Nations Cup knockout stages for the first time since 2012.
Several Panthers players, including prominent forward Denis Bouanga, second-choice goalkeeper Noubi Fotso, fullback David Sambissa, midfielder Serge Ngouali, and forward Ulrick Eneme Ella, have been infected with new diseases.