Aubameyang to Zaha: how Africa Cup of Nations will hit Premier League | Africa Cup of Nations

“I love the fact that we have a lot of African players… until the start of the Africa Cup of Nations. And then it is: ‘Oh my God!’

Jurgen Klopp is not the only Premier League coach Afcon will have in mind over the coming weeks. With the 33rd edition of the continental tournament set to start in Cameroon on January 9 postponed, planning the absence of up to 40 players from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Wilfried Zaha during one of the toughest periods of the domestic season would be a major fixture. headache for several

To the annoyance of Klopp and European club managers, the tournament shifted to its usual place in the middle of the season after the 2019 Nations Cup was held in Egypt for the first time during the European summer, because June and July are part of the rainy season in Cameroon. After a year of delays due to the pandemic, the host country will start with Burkina Faso in Yaounde.

Quick guide

40 Premier League players in line to go to Afcon


Club by club guide

Arsenal (4) Thomas Partey (Ghana), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)

Aston Villa (3) Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt), Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso), Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe)

Brentford (3) Julien Janvier (Guinea), Frank Onika (Nigeria), Tariq Fossou Henry (Ghana)

Brighton (1) Yves Bisoma (Mali)

Burnley (1) Maxwell Cornet (Ivory Coast)

Chelsea (2) Edouard Mendy (Senegal), Hakim Zyech (Morocco)

Crystal Palace (4) Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Jeffrey Schlub (Ghana), Jordan Ayew (Ghana), and Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

Everton (2) Jean-Philippe Gabbamin (Ivory Coast) and Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)

Leeds United (0)

Lister (4) Daniel Amarty (Ghana), Nambalis Mendy (Senegal), Wilfried Ndidi (Nigeria), Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)

Liverpool (3) Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Naby Keita (Guinea), Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Manchester City (1) Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Manchester United (2) Eric Bailly (Côte d’Ivoire), Amade Diallo (Côte d’Ivoire)

Newcastle (0)

Norwich (0)

Southampton (2) Musa Djenebo (Mali), Muhammed Salisu (Ghana)

Tottenham (0)

Watford (5) Peter Itibo (Nigeria), William Trost-Ekong (Nigeria), Adam Masina (Morocco), Ismail Sarr (Senegal), Emmanuel Denis (Nigeria)

West Ham (1) Said Ben Rahma (Algeria)

Wolves (2) Willy Polly (Ivory Coast), Romain Saiss (Morocco)

Photograph: Frank Fife/AFP

Thank you for your feedback.

Leeds, Norwich, Newcastle and Tottenham are the only clubs in the Premier League that will not be affected, and the rest will likely be without key players for up to six Premier League matches and two FA Cup matches. With Liverpool close to missing Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita in a string of matches that includes trips to Chelsea and Arsenal, it’s no wonder Klopp has been so opposed to the switch.

He’ll remember what happened the last time the Nations Cup was held mid-season. Liverpool were second to champions Chelsea at the start of the 2016-2017 year, but they failed to win any of the Premier League matches, losing in the League Cup semi-final against Southampton and exiting the FA Cup. by the leaders of the wolves tournament. Mane missed just two Premier League games after being brought back on a private jet in time to face Chelsea, hours after missing the penalty kick that ousted Senegal in the quarter-final shootout against Cameroon.

FIFA regulations state that players must be released by their clubs on December 27 – 13 days before the first match of the tournament. This means that Salah, Mane and Keita could play in Liverpool’s Premier League match against Leeds on Boxing Day, but will not be available for the trip to Leicester two days later. However, there is a possibility that some will get an exemption to join their national teams at a later time depending on what can be agreed with their clubs.

Discussions are believed to be ongoing, with Chelsea wanting to face Edward Mendy and Hakim Ziyech of Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on January 2 before joining Senegal and Morocco respectively. Klopp is hoping he can convince the Egyptian Football Association to allow Salah to arrive as late as possible.

Hakim Ziyech (left) plays for Morocco against Mauritania in an African Cup of Nations qualifier.
Hakim Ziyech (left) plays for Morocco against Mauritania in an African Cup of Nations qualifier. Photo: Fadel Al-Sana/AFP/Getty Images

He said in June 2019 in an interview with my book Made in Africa: A History of African Players in the Premier League. “This has always been something on our minds.”

The return to the mid-season competition may be reflected in the fact that the number of African players in the Premier League (46) this season has fallen since its peak of 59 in 2007-08. The vast majority are expected to be in Cameroon. Brighton and Leicester may be grateful for Zambia’s failure to qualify, leaving summer signings Enoch Mwebo and Batson Dhaka at their disposal – although these two clubs plan the absence of key midfielders Yves Bisuma and Wilfried Ndidi respectively.

The Fiver: Sign up and get our daily soccer email.

Ndidi and teammate Kelechi Iheanacho are among seven Nigerians – more than any other country – who could be called up from English clubs by long-serving German coach Gernot Rohr, who is looking to build on third place last time out. Watford have three Super Eagles in Peter Etebo, William Trost-Ekong and Emmanuel Denis, and also face the prospect of losing Senegalese Ismail Sarr and Morocco’s Adam Massina for a crucial period that includes league matches against fellow struggling teammates Norwich and Newcastle.

The hopes of Crystal Palace supporters that Zaha’s request that he not be selected for this month’s World Cup qualifiers in Cote d’Ivoire could mean he was available to Patrick Vieira in January were dashed when the 29-year-old made clear his intentions to take part in the World Cup. The country’s defeat by Cameroon in his absence means that the elephants will not be in Qatar next year. Vieira is also likely to be without Cheikho Kouyate, Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew, and his Arsenal counterpart Mikel Arteta will not be able to connect with Aubameyang, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elni or Nicolas Pepe.

Riyad Mahrez and his comrades in the Algerian national team celebrate their victory in the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Riyad Mahrez and his comrades in the Algerian national team celebrate their victory in the 2019 African Cup of Nations. Photo: Giuseppe Cacas/AFP/Getty Images

Manchester City may not feel the intensity of Riyad Mahrez’s departure to play for Algeria given that he has only started twice in the Premier League. Mahrez led Algeria to win the last championship in Egypt and was a key element in the City team that won the title last season. In this campaign he was a key player in the Champions League.

With the knockout stages of that tournament kicking off on February 15, nine days after the Africa Cup of Nations final, at least he and West Ham player Sid Benrahma will return to what could be a very different time in the Premier League table.

Leave a Comment