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AFCON 2021: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returns to training with Gabon

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The Arsenal striker missed Gabon’s opening match of the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19.

Gabon won their first match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations against Comoros with a 1-0 result. The Panthers played without their star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but they still managed to secure a narrow win.

The Arsenal star tested positive for COVID-19 a week before the tournament began. However, he is now back in training ahead of Gabon’s next group-stage match.

The return of Aubameyang will be a major squad boost for the Panthers. But, the team will now have to deal with an absence in their dugout for the upcoming days. 

On Thursday, head coach Patrice Neveu tested positive for the virus and missed his side’s training session. The Gabonese FA confirmed the news, stating assistant coach Anicet Yala will cover for the manager’s absence.

Yala himself tested positive for COVID-19 alongside Aubameyang and Monaco midfielder Mario Lemina before the tournament. However, the trio has returned to Gabon’s training, preparing for the team’s upcoming match against Ghana.

In an interview with Gabonese FA, Aubameyang spoke about his return to training.

He said (via Fotbmob): “Staying locked up is not easy,

“So we’re happy to be back in training and in the squad.”

Asked about Gabon’s win in their opening game of the tournament, the Arsenal star responded: “I won’t say serene, but it certainly feels good to start the competition with a victory,

“After that, you shouldn’t think that you won the [Cup of Nations] either.

“We are going to play a very tough opponent who want to win the game, so we will have to be serious as we were in the first game and I know that we will have our chances.

“I was already very happy that the guys did the job in the first game, we are all proud of them. Now it’s up to me to level up and bring everything I can to the group.”

Following their game against Ghana, Gabon will face Morocco in their last group-stage game on January 18.