Rabat – Soufiane “Sofian” Chakla, a defender for Spain’s Villarreal CF and Morocco’s national football team the Atlas Lions, has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) announced his infection on Friday.
The national team began training at the Mohammed VI football complex this week to prepare for two friendly matches against Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The matches are part of the preparation for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN). Morocco will face Senegal Friday evening at 7 p.m. and the Democratic Republic of Congo next week on October 13. Both matches will take place at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat.
As part of preparations for the matches, players and personnel underwent multiple rounds of screening tests for COVID-19.
Soufiane Chakla’s infection emerged during the latest round of tests.
Born in Kenitra, Morocco, the 25-year-old played for multiple Spanish football clubs before joining Villarreal in July 2019, including Betis Sevilla, UD Melilla, and UD Almeria. He also played in Hungary with Fehervar FC.
Soufiane Chakla is the second Atlas Lion to test positive for COVID-19.
Earlier this week, on October 6, FRMF announced that Nabil Dirar, a midfielder, tested positive for the virus. Achraf Lazaar, who plays for the English club Newcastle United, will replace Dirar during the friendlies.
Atlas Lions coach Vahid Halillhodzic’s call up of Soufiane Chakla last week was the Spanish-Moroccan player’s first opportunity to play for Morocco’s national team.
Other new faces on the Moroccan team include Samy Mmaee (Sint-Truidense VV), Driess Saddiki (Willem II Tilburg), Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt), Moha Rharsalla (Slovan Bratislava), and Munir El Haddadi (Sevilla FC). However, FIFA rejected on Thursday El Haddadi’s requested nationality switch from Spain to Morocco. The FRMF said Friday it will appeal the decision.