Striker Joel Tagueu has been withdrawn from Cameroon’s squad at the Africa Cup of Nations after a medical examination revealed a possible life-threatening heart defect, the country’s soccer federation said in a statement on Monday.
The 25-year-old, who plays for Portuguese club Maritimo, had an “anomaly in his coronary artery detected by team doctor William Ngatchou which risks his life if he were to play,” the Cameroon Football Federation said.
“On the advice of the doctor, the coach (Clarence Seedorf) has decided not to risk the player, who is leaving the tournament,”
The doctor first detected the possible defect when Cameroon held a pre-tournament training camp in Qatar and subsequent examinations confirmed his suspicion.
“The news was greeted with a lot of sadness in the camp. The staff and the players could not hold back their tears,” the statement added.
As Cameroon have yet to play their first game at the tournament, they can still replace Tagueu.
The holders begin the defence of their title against Guinea Bissau in Ismailia on Tuesday.
The risk of heart failure during the game is an emotive issue for Cameroon, whose midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed and died while playing for the Indomitable Lions at the 2003 Confederation Cup in France.
Foe, only 28, collapsed on the field and lost consciousness during the semi-final against Colombia at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon.
After attempts to resuscitate him on the pitch, medics spent 45 minutes at the stadium’s medical centre trying to restart his heart, and although he was still alive when he arrived there, he died shortly afterwards.
He was later found to have suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart-related disease.