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Premier League to lose 40 players to AFCON

By Guardian Nigeria
07 December 2021   |   4:02 am
With five and four players respectively, Watford and Leicester City will be the hardest hit English Premier League club by players exodus for the Cameroun 2022 African Cup of Nations, reports

Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi are expected to miss a number of key matches for Leicester City when they head off to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Watford, Leicester hardest hit
With five and four players respectively, Watford and Leicester City will be the hardest hit English Premier League clubs by players exodus for the Cameroon 2022 African Cup of Nations, reports Watford will be without Oghenakaro Etebo (Nigeria), William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria), Adam Masina (Morocco), Ismaila Sarr (Senegal) and Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria) when the AFCON kicks off.

The Africa Cup of Nations has already been postponed twice but when it is finally scheduled to get underway in January, 40 players from 16 different Premier League clubs could miss their domestic fixtures.

Rumours had begun circulating that the tournament was in doubt due to concerns over the infrastructure in host nation, Cameroun. It had already been pushed back, first due to fears that the Cameroonian summer would be too hot and latterly due to the impact of COVID.

With the competition due to hold from January 9 to February 6, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has suggested that ‘urgent attention’ needs to be paid to some areas of the tournament, but noted that Cameroun had made ‘progress.’ However, there was no mention of AFCON being cancelled or postponed.

That means that from late December, Premier League clubs could be missing a host of players from the participating countries.

Liverpool‘s title race is set to be heavily affected with Sadio Mane’s Senegal, Mo Salah’s Egypt and Naby Keita’s Guinea all having qualified.

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who plays for Gabon, and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, who represents Algeria, are among the other high-profile Premier League stars expected to be involved.

If, according to reports, they are set to fly out after Boxing Day, they will be in line to miss five weeks. Salah and Mane, for example, could potentially be absent for Liverpool’s fixtures against Leicester, Chelsea, Brentford, Crystal Palace and Burnley depending on how far their national teams progress. Watford stand to be the worst affected, with five members of their current squad taking part.

Arsenal will miss Thomas Partey (Ghana), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) and Nicolas Pepe (Cote d’Ivoire).

Aston Villa will be without Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt), Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso) and Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe), while Brentford will lose Julian Jeanvier (Guinea), Frank Onyeka (Nigeria) and Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana).

Brighton’s challenge will be without only Yves Bissouma (Mali), while Burnley miss Maxwel Cornet (Cote d’Ivoire).

Chelsea will be without their number one goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy (Senegal) and Hakim Ziyech (Morocco), while Crystal Palace will miss as many as four stars including Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana), Jordan Ayew (Ghana) and Wilfried Zaha (Cote d’Ivoire).

Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi and Cote d’Ivoire’s Jean-Philippe Gbamin will be out of action for their clubs, while Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria) and Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria) will be absent for Leicester City with Liverpool set to lose Mo Salah (Egypt), Naby Keita (Guinea) and Sadio Mane (Senegal).

Manchester City’s campaign will be hit by the absence only one star, Riyad Mahrez (Algeria), while neighbours, Manchester United will be without Cote d’Ivoire’s Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo.

Southampton will lose Moussa Djenepo (Mali) and Mohammed Salisu (Ghana).

West Ham will miss Algeria’s Said Benrahma, just as Wolves will be without Romain Saiss (Morocco) and Willy Boly (Cote d’Ivoire).

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