The Gabonese Federation has confirmed that the Panthers captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be able to end his Africa Cup of Nations campaign early.
Gabon captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been granted permission to return to Arsenal due to ongoing health issues he has been experiencing at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Gunners captain has yet to play in the biennial African football showpiece after testing positive for Covid-19 on January 6, and while he was scheduled to return against Ghana earlier this week, his comeback was canceled due to medical reasons.
Panthers coach Patrice Neveu has now confirmed that the striker will be allowed to return to Arsenal so that his ongoing health issues — as well as the nature of the Covid-19 residue in his system — can be properly assessed.
“It’s important that Mario returns to Nice and Pierre returns to Arsenal,” he added. “It’s a decision that we’ve taken among ourselves.”
The Gabonese Football Federation later confirmed in a statement that the players are no longer on international duty.
Aubameyang tested positive for coronavirus upon arrival at Yaounde airport, having traveled to Cameroon with compatriot Lemina from Abu Dhabi.
“The Gabonese Football Federation has decided to put the players Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina back at the disposition of their clubs in order for them to follow more in-depth exams,” read a brief communique.
The diagnosis forced him to miss the Panthers’ first game, a 1-0 victory over Comoros, but after a negative test, he returned to training with the team on Thursday ahead of their second Group C game against Ghana.
His comeback plans were thwarted just hours before kickoff against the Black Stars, when medical tests revealed coronavirus residue in his system.
Gabon continued and stated that after the game that they were hopeful that further medical tests would allow both Aubameyang and Lemina to return to action, though sources within the camp revealed on Sunday that further medical tests had not revealed a change in circumstances.
The decision was made on Sunday, ahead of the final group game against Morocco on Tuesday, to allow both players to return to their clubs.
“It’s very complicated,” Neveu continued. “I’m not new to this team, I’ve worked with Gabon for three years, and fortunately Caf gave us the option of having a squad of 28 players.
“However, losing Pierre-Emerick and Mario, it’s a lot for this team. We don’t have the squad of Nigeria or Morocco, and we know we’re in a hard competition.”
Gabon, who have four points from their first two matches, is aiming to reach the Nations Cup knockout stages for the first time since 2012.
Several new infections have also struck the Panthers, including influential forward Denis Bouanga, second-choice goalkeeper Noubi Fotso, fullback David Sambissa, midfielder Serge Ngouali, and striker Ulrick Eneme Ella.