The organizers of the African Cup have confirmed that the teams will have to play the matches provided they have 11 players available, in case of exhaustion of the cases of Covid-19.
Cameroon’s match against Burkina Faso on Sunday, live on Sky Sport, will kick off the tournament, which includes 52 games, and the rules on how the teams will deal with those absent due to Covid-19 have been clarified.
Nations will have to play a match if they have a minimum of 11 negative players, while in the absence of a goalkeeper, an outside player of the team will have to replace the goalkeeper.
Any nation that does not have a minimum of 11 players will be deemed to have lost the 0-2 match.
The organizers also pointed out that each team will be allowed to use a maximum of five substitutions, with a maximum of three opportunities to make substitutions during the match.
Where overtime is played, each team may make an additional substitution and will have an additional substitution opportunity.
Algeria are the reigning champions after a 1-0 final win over Senegal when the competition was left in Egypt in 2019.
Why is the tournament taking place now?
This Africa Cup of Nations was supposed to be played in 2021 and a year late due to the pandemic didn’t really achieve much.
The tournament will go on with virus cases on the rise around the world, led this time by the omicron variant. For this reason, only fans who are fully vaccinated and can show proof of a negative virus test will be able to enter any of the six stadiums in five host cities to watch matches.
In a country like Cameroon, where less than three per cent of the population of 26 million people are fully vaccinated, only a small minority of people can therefore witness the tournament firsthand.
Additionally, crowds will be limited to 60% of a stadium’s capacity, or 80% for matches involving the host nation of Cameroon.
There is the possibility that many matches will be held in nearly empty stadiums, although this is nothing new for AFCON.
The build-up saw virus outbreaks in many of the teams headed to Cameroon. The Confederation of African Football and local authorities have a big challenge on their hands to ensure that the virus does not overwhelm the event.