Guinean footballer Momo Yansane has endured his share of struggles in recent years including racism and playing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 23-year-old is now playing for Isloch Minsk Raion in Belarus after leaving Moroccan side FUS Rabat last year, initially on loan.

Yansane left Morocco under something of a cloud after getting little playing time, enduring a strained relationship with the then coach Walid Regragui and battling racism.

“There was a lot of racism, even some from my fellow teammates,” the striker told BBC Sport Africa.

“The more you train together, the more you are together, the more you can discover. Some of the Moroccan population is racist as well.

“Sometimes, when you went for a walk or you spoke to someone they treated you in a racist way.”

He recounts that he was sometimes the target of the very worst of racial insults while in Morocco.

Hopes of an easier life in Europe after his loan move were short-lived as he had to adapt to his new club environment, the cold climate and navigate a language barrier with the help of his mobile phone.

On the pitch however the youngster quickly settled down as he scored fifteen goals in all competitions in his first season.

Despite signing a permanent deal with Isloch Minsk, 2020 has proved to be another daunting campaign for Yansane.

Playing during Covid

In March, the Belarusian top flight captured the international headlines when the league defied the game’s global shutdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Belarusian Premier League continued to play and fans were still welcome to attend matches as the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko said that concerns about the coronavirus pandemic were “psychosis”.

Yansane acquiesced to the decision of the local authorities and sporting governing body, but not without concerns.

“It was very difficult to remain indifferent given that other countries were fighting the coronavirus,” recalls Yansane.

“I felt forced to play, but it wasn’t my decision. I asked the club to test the players every week because it is an infectious disease.

“It contaminates and it can go very fast. If the club had refused, I would also have refused to train. When you conduct the tests weekly, that is encouraging.”

At Isloch Minsk, Yansane and the other players wore masks and gloves and used disinfectant as part of the club’s protective measures against the coronavirus.

Even so, a number of Yansane’s colleagues returned positive tests in May and were placed in quarantine.

Individual and collective training sessions were however never interrupted and after practice Yansane stayed at home even if Belarus never imposed a lockdown.

Momo Yansane in action