Comoros Islands were forced to field a defender in goal for Monday’s Africa Cup of Nations last-16 tie against hosts Cameroon in Yaounde after being refused permission to use goalkeeper Ali Ahamada, despite him returning a negative COVID-19 test result.
All three goalkeepers for the small island nation had been ruled out of the match on the eve of the tie –-injured goalkeeper Salim Ben Boina, Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada who were ruled out with Covid-19.
Coach Amir Abdou was also missing the match –- the biggest in the footballing history of the country -- with a COVID-19 infection.
Africa Cup of Nations rules state that if a nation has 11 fit players, they MUST fulfill the fixture regardless of if they have a goalkeeper available or not.
But goalkeeper Ali Ahamada returned a new negative test and was pronounced fit to play by the Comoros Football Federation in a medical bulletin on Monday, only for his participation to be later ruled out by the Confederation of African Football.
Their medical commission said any player who had been in quarantine would have to wait a minimum of five days before being allowed to return to play.
Instead, the Comoros fielded the 30-year-old defender Chaker Alhadhur, who had his squad number 3 plastered on an oversized goalkeeping jersey and whose first touch was to head the ball clear from the edge of his box.
He did not make an actual save until late in the first half in what almost turned into a fairytale performance.
The 30-year-old, who represents French club Ajaccio, was born in France and has spent his entire career in the country.
Hosts Cameroon made heavy work of beating 10-man Comoros Islands 2-1 on Monday to advance to the African Cup of Nations quarter-finals at the expense of a team who had everything stacked against them in the last 16.
Karl Toko Ekambi and Vincent Aboubakar scored the home team's goals at the Olembe Stadium to eliminate the debutants, who were forced to use a full back in goal and had their captain sent off after six minutes.
But Comoros still put up a gallant fight and, despite the considerable disadvantage, pulled a goal back from Youssouf M'Changama with nine minutes remaining to depart the tournament with their reputations considerably enhanced.
Cameroon meet upstarts Gambia in the last eight in Douala on Saturday after they upset Guinea 1-0 in Bafoussam earlier on Monday.