The AFCON 2021 tournament begins on Sunday, with teams allowed up to five substitutes but required to play if they have 11 fit players.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed that teams will be allowed to make up to five substitutions in games during the Africa Cup of Nations to help combat the impact of COVID-19 related absences.
Rules also state that teams must play if they have at least 11 players available, even if that does not include a recognized goalkeeper, or else will forfeit the game. The tournament gets underway on Sunday when hosts Cameroon take on Burkina Faso.
A statement on the CAF website outlined the measures, confirming that: “Each team will be permitted to use a maximum of five substitutes. “To reduce disruption to the match, each team will have a maximum of three opportunities to make substitutions during the game; substitutions may also be made at half-time.
“If both teams make a substitution at the same time, this will count as one of the three opportunities for each team. Unused substitutions and opportunities are carried forward into extra time. Where extra time is played, teams will each be allowed one additional substitution, and will have one additional substitution opportunity; substitutions may also be made before the start of extra time and at half-time in extra time.”
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In terms of the minimum number of players required, the CAF announced that any team that is unable to field 11 players will forfeit the game and be defeated 2-0. “Any player whose COVID-19 PCR test results are positive will not be permitted to enter the stadium or compete in the applicable match,” the statement stated.
“A team will be required to play a match if they have a minimum of 11 players available who have tested negative. In the event of the absence of a goalkeeper, another player from the team must replace the goalkeeper, provided the total number of available players is at least 11. A team that does not have a minimum of 11 players available will be considered to have lost the match 0-2. In exceptional cases, the Organizing Committee of the Africa Cup of Nations will take the appropriate decision.”