The 30th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations kicks off tomorrow, with organisers, players and fans hoping the tournament can thrive in the face of adversity.
It was only in November that Equatorial Guinea took over as hosts from Morocco, whose plea to postpone the finals over fears about the spread of Ebola was rejected by the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
With concerns over the short time for Equatorial Guinea to prepare, worries about potentially poor attendances at matches in remote parts of the country and doubts about the infrastructure and facilities, football itself has taken a back seat in the build-up to the 16-team event which ends on February 8.
Meanwhile organisers have said all players and visitors entering Equatorial Guinea will be tested for Ebola.
The deadly virus, which broke out in West Africa in March 2014 and has claimed the lives of 8,386 people in six countries according to World Health Organisation figures up to 12 January, has cast a dark shadow over the tournament.
However, there are no reported cases in Equatorial Guinea and the country’s government has taken measures to prevent Ebola from reaching their soil, including hiring the expertise of a team of Cuban doctors.
Julia Nchama Abeso Avomo, the administrative attache at the country’s embassy in London, said everyone entering Equatorial Guinea will go through a short medical check upon arrival as a precautionary measure.
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia are the countries worst affected by Ebola. Guinea are the only qualifiers for the finals – and their achievement is remarkable given the circumstances.
The team were unable to play any matches at home and also suffered because of the stigma of the disease.
Borussia Monchengladbach winger Ibrahima Traore says the players were tested for Ebola in the dressing room, just before a vital match against Togo.
“We felt disrespected in other countries; to us it was like some people were seeing us Guineans not as human beings but as a disease,” Traore told BBC Sport.
“Now we have to forget all that and we have to perform well in Equatorial Guinea. It’s something really important for our country and all the people who are suffering due to this disease.
“We want to show everyone a great image of Guinea.
“We got a $30,000 (£19,700) bonus for qualifying and I gave that money directly to charities fighting the disease. At the Africa Cup of Nations we want to fight for the people who are struggling due to Ebola.”