Afcon 2021: Tunisia hit by Covid outbreak before facing The Gambia

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Wahbi Khazri in action for TunisiaTunisia attacker Wahbi Khazri had a stint with Sunderland but now plays in fraince for Saint-Etienne

Tunisia could be without 12 players for their pivotal Africa Cup of Nations Group F game against The Gambia on Thursday because of coronavirus.

Captain Wahbi Khazri, who scored two goals in his country's 4-0 win over Mauritania on Sunday and set up another, is among seven players who have tested positive.

The Carthage Eagles need at least a point against The Gambia to have a chance to progress as one of four best third-placed sides, while victory would secure a spot in the last 16.

Defender Ali Maaloul and midfielder Ghaylene Chaalali, who both started against the Mourabitounes, will also be missing along with Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Mohamed Amine Ben Hamida and goalkeepers Aymen Dahmen and Ali Jemal.

Tunisia's press officer confirmed the cases to BBC Sport Africa on Tuesday.

However, defender Mohamed Drager will re-join the squad after recovering from Covid-19, and the Tunisians hope that five other players in isolation will be able to return.

Defenders Dylan Bronn and Oussama Haddadi and midfielders Issam Jebali, Naim Sliti and Yoann Touzghar all sat out their second group match, but are not showing symptoms of the virus.

Nations Cup champions in 2004, Tunisia lost their opening game in Cameroon 1-0 against Mali in controversial circumstances, as referee Janny Sikazwe blew for full-time 13 seconds early.

The North Africans had been hit by coronavirus cases at their pre-tournament training camp, and forwards Youssef Msakni and Seifeddine Jaziri are among several players who have since returned to action.

Cape Verde and Malawi are among other countries who have been hard-hit by coronavirus in Cameroon, only being able to name six and four substitutes respectively for their opening group games.

Tournament rules state sides must play if they have 11 players available - even if no recognised goalkeeper is among those fit.

Tunisia coach Mondher KebaierTunisia coach Mondher Kebaier is looking to avoid a group-stage exit in Cameroon
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