A number of African footballers, who play for Premier League sides, will miss their club games during the African Cup of Nations in January next year. The AFCON 2023 was earlier scheduled for June-July this year. The tournament had to be postponed due to poor weather conditions in Ivory Coast. It will now begin on January 13 and conclude on February 11.
The Premier League has had several African players over the years and the number has only increased in recent times. But every year during the AFCON, these players go on national duty, missing the critical part of the English season. This season will be no different, and as many as 43 African footballers will leave their clubs to represent their countries in the AFCON.
Among the players, who will miss out on Premier League action, are Mohammad Salah, Andre Onana, Said Benrahma, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Dango Ouattara, Issa Kabore, Bryan Mbeumo, Yoane Wissa, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Antoine Semenyo, Tariq Lamptey, Jeffrey Schlupp, Jordan Ayew, Mohammed Kudus, Hamed Traore, Amad Diallo, Serge Aurier, Willy Boly, Ismaila Coulibaly, Nayef Aguerd, Anass Zaroury, Hannibal Mejbri, Anis Ben Slimane, Pape Matar Sarr and many more.
Let’s take a look at five big names, who will make the task difficult for their respective clubs:
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt)
Mohamed Salah has been a mainstay in Liverpool’s forward line over the past few years. His involvement will be equally necessary for Egypt to shine in the African Cup of Nations. Due to his national duty, Salah is expected to miss a number of crucial Premier League fixtures against Bournemouth, Chelsea and Arsenal. It might also cause trouble for Al Ittihad as the Saudi Pro League side are reportedly keen to sign Salah during the winter transfer window.
Andre Onana (Manchester United, Cameroon)
Andre Onana joined Manchester United on a five-year deal as a permanent replacement for David de Gea. In the Cameroon international’s absence, another new signing, Turkish goalkeeper Altay Bayindir, is likely to get a start for United.
Thomas Partey (Arsenal, Ghana)
With Arsenal roping in some big names like Declan Rice and Kai Havertz in the midfield, Thomas Partey is now playing as a full-back for Mikel Arteta’s side. He has so far featured in three Premier League games this season. Partey will be key to Ghana’s chances in the AFCON. He will serve as the main man in the Black Star’s midfield.
Dango Ouattara (Bournemouth, Burkina Faso)
Dango Ouattara is yet to play his first match for Bournemouth this season. He came to the Premier League side in January last year and helped them retain their place in the English top flight before sustaining an injury ahead of the ongoing campaign. Ouattara is expected to be fit before winter and represent Burkina Faso in the AFCON.
Said Benrahma (West Ham United, Algeria)
Algerian winger Said Benrahma has been a key component in the Aston Villa team, since joining the club in the summer of 2020. One of his top performances came in the final of last year’s Europa Conference League, netting a goal against Fiorentina to help the Hammers pick up a 2-1 win. He already recorded one assist in the Premier League this season. Benrahma is expected to continue his red-hot form for Algeria in the 2023 AFCON.