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Zimbabwe’s preparations for next month’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) have been dealt another major blow after it emerged five members of the technical team had also tested positive for Covid-19.
On Tuesday, nine national team players tested positive for the coronavirus bringing the total number 14.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) confirmed that on top of the nine senior men’s national team players who tested positive for the coronavirus, five technical officials who include coaches had also tested positive.
“We confirm that five technical officials of the CHAN team have also tested positive to Covid-19 including some of the coaches bringing the number of those affected to 14. It’s indeed a painful scenario and a huge setback. We pray that all the 14 will prevail and recover soon,” said ZIFA.
On Tuesday, ZIFA announced that nine of the 23 players had tested positive for the novel virus when a training camp for the CHAN tournament resumed after the Christmas break Monday.
The announcement came barely a few hours after ZIFA had named a provisional 23-man squad which is expected to be submitted to CAF next week ahead of the tournament scheduled to kick off on January 16.
The players and officials that tested positive have been isolated, while those that tested negative stayed in camp but training had been halted as ZIFA consults with other stakeholders including the government.
ZIFA has placed a further 11 players on stand-by to join the squad if the positive cases do not recover in time.
Zimbabwe have been drawn in a tough pool that is scheduled to see them open their campaign against hosts Cameroon on January 16, followed by a date with Burkina Faso four days later, and a clash against Mali on January 24.
Zimbabwe have qualified for four of the previous five CHAN tournaments, finishing fourth in 2014, but failing to make it out the pool stages in the other three.