The Ivory Coast face Equatorial Guinea Wednesday in their opening AFCON Group E fixture without their first choice goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo dropped for doping.
The Elephants have been notified that 33-year-old Gbohouo has been suspended by football’s world governing body Fifa for a doping violation, reports the BBC.
Gbohouo recently tested positive for trimetazidine – a heart medication listed as a stimulant by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle was first made aware of the positive test last month on 26 December, which the player had appealed.
The Elephants had named Gbohouo in their AFCON squad but had placed him on suspension pending the confirmation of the doping ban.
“We had hope of getting a favourable response from Fifa but yesterday I learned that they were upholding their decision,” Beaumelle was quoted as saying by the BBC late on Tuesday.
The Ivory Coast team is rallying around Gbohouo, who plays his club football in Ethiopia for Wolkite City.
Beaumelle said the doping allegation had taken its toll on Gbohouo.
“It’s been really difficult for the player,” said the coach.
“He’s been here since 5 January not knowing if he’ll be able to play. He’s not eating anymore, he’s lost weight, he’s not sleeping.
“I hope he stays with us, because I think he has an important role to play around the team if he can’t be in the team.
“He’s a great keeper and an excellent person. It’s really hard for him and his family and we are all supporting him because his career isn’t finished.”
The Elephants travelled to Cameroon with three other goalkeepers – Badra Ali Sangare, Abdoul Karim Cisse, and Ira Eliezer Tape.
Holders Algeria played out to a goalless draw against Sierra Leone on Tuesday, giving the Ivory Coast a real chance of leading the Group E if they win their game tonight.