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Saintfiet’s Gambia cancel Cup of Nations preparations games due to COVID-19

Former Malta coach Tom Saintfiet saw his preparations for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations being severely hampered after Gambia’s two warm-up matches were cancelled due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in their squad.

The decision came just hours before they were due to play Algeria in Doha – the other match was against Syria on Tuesday.

“Due to the unavailability of 16 of our 28-man squad our friendlies ahead of the Cup of Nations against Algeria and Syria have both been cancelled,” the Gambian Football Federation (GFF) said in a statement.

Saintfiet explained via Facebook that the swathe of absences were due to “Covid, other illness, injuries and restrictions to travel.”

The Algerians were less than pleased with the late notice.

“The Gambians decided unilaterally to cancel the match hours before kick-off on the pretext that they were lacking a goalkeeper!” stormed the Algerian Football Federation (FaF) in a statement.

The cancellations are hardly ideal preparation for Gambia ahead of their first appearance at the biennial African football showpiece being hosted by Cameroon and which runs from January 9 to February 6.

They open their campaign on January 12 against Mauretania, followed by Mali four days later and round off their group matches against Tunisia on January 20. 

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