Guinea’s second friendly of the international break has been cancelled, with sources claiming it was due to a refusal to play amid concerns over COVID-19 safety protocol.
It was reported on Sunday that Naby Keita was one of five Guinea players to test positive for COVID-19, following an initial test on Wednesday and a follow-up on Friday.
The Liverpool midfielder is in quarantine as a result, and the absence of him along with Francois Kamano, Ibrahima Kone, Ibrahima Camara and Florentin Pogba left manager Didier Six facing a personnel issue against Gambia on Tuesday.
That problem has now been taken out of his hands, with Foot224 reporting that the Guinea squad have refused to play the friendly over issues with their treatment by the authorities.
Firstly, the removal of participation and win bonuses for the meetings with Cape Verde and Gambia in Portugal, with players only entitled to a travel bonus, was held up as a point of concern.
But more worrying is the claim that “the other highlight of their meeting was the accommodation conditions.”
“In this time of coronavirus, the protocol requiring social distancing has not been respected at all,” Foot224 report.
“Four players are accommodated in the same apartment, ie. two per room with two separate beds. This is also one of the reasons for the infection of some players.”
It is added that Guinea’s shortage of players due to COVID-19 and injury has led them to pull out of their friendly against Gambia, which is the official reasoning stated by the Guinea FA.
Given the accusations of negligence regarding COVID-19 safety protocol, and the subsequent infection of five players including Keita, this should be a major concern for all involved.
Liverpool were not required to release Keita for the break due to Guinea only holding friendlies, and while they should perhaps shoulder some of the responsibility if true, they could not have expected their player to be put at risk.
It is not the first issue the Reds have faced when it comes to Keita’s involvement with Guinea, with the No. 8 rushed back from an adductor injury to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations under Six’s predecessor, Paul Put, in 2019, leading to a recurrence of fitness problems.
And ahead of the international break, Jurgen Klopp admitted he was “slightly concerned” over releasing his players because “it’s difficult to get in contact with all FAs all over the world.”
On Sunday evening, the Telegraph reported that Liverpool were yet to receive confirmation from the Guinea FA whether or not Keita has tested positive for COVID-19, which really hammers home the fear for Klopp.
Given these latest claims from Foot224, it would be no surprise if the Reds take a more ruthless approach for the next international break.