Africa Cup of Nations title hopefuls Ivory Coast were dealt a blow on the eve of their first game at the tournament as first-choice goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo was ruled out for doping.
The Ivorian Football Federation revealed news of the FIFA-imposed ban on Tuesday, 24 hours before the Elephants play Equatorial Guinea in their opening group game in the Cameroonian city of Douala.
“FIFA can confirm that its Disciplinary Committee has provisionally suspended Sylvain Gbohouo on the grounds of doping,” a spokesperson for football’s world governing body told AFP.
The 33-year-old started all six matches in the group stage of African qualifying for this year’s World Cup, including most recently a decisive 1-0 defeat in Cameroon in November.
He was their first-choice goalkeeper at the 2019 Cup of Nations and appeared in every game bar the final when the Ivory Coast won the continental title in 2015.
“He tested positive after the game here two months ago and we appealed immediately,” said Ivory Coast’s French coach, Patrice Beaumelle, at a press conference in Douala.
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Beaumelle revealed he had asked Gbohouo to see an optician because he was struggling to deal with long balls, and that the goalkeeper was then prescribed treatment.
“That was the end of it, but then he tested positive in November, although they didn’t find what medication caused it.
“We all support him. He has been training on his own, has not been sleeping or eating and has lost weight.
“We were hoping for a positive outcome but I discovered last night that FIFA were upholding the ban and that we have 20 days to appeal, which we have done.”
Transfer window: Bonke joins Terem Moffi at Lorient
Super Eagles midfielder, Innocent Bonke, has completed his transfer to French side, Lorient, joining Terem Moffi after signing a three-year deal with the French Ligue 1 side.
The Super Eagles star was signed for free after he dumped Malmo at the beginning of the year at the expiration of his contract.
Les premiers 👣 de Bonke Innocent à l’Espace FCL 🙂 pic.twitter.com/ye1nsyEuxg
— FC LORIENT 🐟 (@FCLorient) January 18, 2022
Earlier on, Soccernet reported that the 25-year-old was linked with a move to the Ligue 1 club, and Lorient unveiled Bonke with a beautiful video via their Twitter handle.
Bonke was one of the best players at Malmo, helping the team qualify for the group stage of the Champions League after a five-year absence. He also helped the Swedish side win two consecutive Allsvenskan titles.
The Kaduna-born defensive midfielder was involved in all of Malmo’s games in the Champions League, but he was unable to help them secure a victory.
Nevertheless, Bonke will look to prove his worth as Les Merlus look to avoid relegation from the Ligue 1 for the second season in a row.
AFCON 2021: Malawi in prime position to tackle Nigeria in last 16 round
Malawi’s Flames are currently the most likely team that will battle the Super Eagles for a quarter-final ticket at the ongoing AFCON 2021 on Sunday.
Group D winners Nigeria is expected to take on the best third losers in Group B, E or F.
At the moment, Malawi finished third in Group B with four points after they held Senegal to a goalless draw Tuesday night.
On the other hand, Sierra Leone are third in Group E with a round of games still to be played.
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They have two points from as many matches and tackle second-placed Equatorial Guinea in the final group game tomorrow.
Tunisia are third this far in Group F with three points and they tackle group leaders Gambia in their final game on Thursday.
Rwandan woman referee creates Africa Cup of Nations history
Rwandan Salima Mukansanga became the first woman to referee an Africa Cup of Nations match when she oversaw the Group B clash between Guinea and Zimbabwe in Yaounde on Tuesday.
On Monday, a Confederation of African Football (CAF) statement said Mukansanga would handle the match with two female assistant referees, Carine Atemzabong of Cameroon and Fatiha Jermoumi of Morocco.
However, when the officials entered the pitch for the match at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in the Cameroonian capital, both assistant referees were males.
CAF did not immediately explain why the assistant referees were changed.
Mukansanga created history after the previous 32 editions of the flagship African tournament from 1957 were refereed exclusively by men.
Previously the Rwandan was the fourth official when Guinea defeated Malawi on 10 January in Bafoussam.
“We are super proud of Salima because she has had to work exceptionally hard to be where she is today,” said Confederation of African Football (CAF) referees’ boss Eddy Maillet from the Seychelles.
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“We know that as a woman she had to overcome serious obstacles to reach this level and she deserves a lot of credit.
“This moment is not just for Salima, but every young girl in Africa who has passion for football and who sees herself as a referee in the future.”
Leaders Guinea need one point to seal a second-round place while Zimbabwe are playing for pride having been eliminated after two losses.
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