The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is still scheduled to continue in January 2022 despite some parts of the Cameroon tournament needing ‘urgent attention’ just months before its start.
Competition between Africa’s top international teams kicks off on January 9 and will see several Premier League players leave their club at the end of December to take part in the tournament, including Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
The African Football Confederation (CAF) met on Monday to hear a report from the tournament’s Organizing Committee, which recently visited Cameroon to give an update on the preparation for the competition.
Africa Cup of Nations scheduled for January 2022 in Cameroon needs ‘urgent attention’, according to CAF
The tournament will see players like Sadio Mane and Mo Salah (left to right) leave their clubs mid-season.
The “full” report indicated that “follow-ups” are needed to make sure the tournament runs smoothly.
Regarding the coronavirus situation in Africa and welcoming fans to the stadiums in Cameroon, the Executive Committee also raised “health issues that will be part of the ongoing discussions between CAF and the government of Cameroon.”
However, the same committee signed the Organization Agreement between AFCON and Cameroon, which states that the tournament will take place as planned.
Liverpool will be one of the Premier League teams hardest hit by the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon, and star forward Salah will join players like Sadio Mane and Naby Keita in the competition.
The tournament needs urgent ‘follow-ups’ to help it run smoothly before it kicks off on January 9.
Salah, who currently tops the Premier League scorers table with ten goals in nine games, will represent Egypt in the tournament, with Mane playing for Senegal and Keita flying the Guinea flag.
Reports claimed earlier this month that African players participating in the tournament will have to leave their top-notch clubs after Boxing Day matches on December 26, to overcome any quarantine measures before the competition.
Players competing in the later stages of the tournament, including the final on February 6, may not be ready for their Premier League clubs until the second week of the same month.
At the time, those players would have already missed eight matches, including six Premier League matches and two FA Cup rounds, though travel plans for the English-based players are believed to have yet to be finalized.
Liverpool could lose Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane (left to right) by up to eight draws
WHAT GAMES * COULD YOU MISS SALAH AND MANE FOR THE LIVERPOOL?
December 28: Leicester City (a) – league
January 2: Chelsea (a) – league
January 9: FA Cup third round (to be confirmed)
Jan 15: Brentford (home) – league
January 22: Crystal Palace (a) – league
January 29: FA Cup fourth round
Feb 9: Leicester City (home) – league
February 12: Burnley (a) – league
* In case Egypt and Senegal go far in AFCON
It means Salah and Mane will definitely miss a potential title-swaying match at Chelsea on January 2 if the tournament continues, as well as two head-to-head matches against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City.
Arsenal is another team that will see several players fly to Africa for the tournament, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon joining Thomas Partey of Ghana and Nicolas Pepe of Ivory Coast in the tournament.
Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny will be another midfield hit for Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, who have Granit Xhaka out until early 2021 with a knee injury.
Arsenal’s African players will definitely miss a visit to Manchester City on New Years Day and a North London derby to Tottenham on January 15, while any player in the latter stages of AFCON could miss a clash against Chelsea. February 12.
Chelsea will likely lose Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy for the winter tournament, while Manchester City will have to cope without Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez.
Watford could lose up to five players for the tournament, including key attackers Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis, while Leicester City will lose four, with Nigerian duo Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfried N’Didi at stake.
Arsenal will lose Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thomas Partey (left to right)
Watford will miss five players, including forwards Emmanuel Dennis (left) and Ismaila Sarr (right)
Crystal Palace may also be left without three players with Wilfried Zaha and Cheikou Kouyate joining Ghanaian duo Jordan Ayew and Jeffrey Schlupp at AFCON, while Aston Villa will lose three players: Marvelous Nakamba, Trezeguet and Bertrand Traore.
Manchester United will only lose the Ivorian duo Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo for the tournament, while Tottenham have no African players who can be called up for the competition.
The tournament was supposed to take place in June and July this year, but was delayed until the start of 2022 due to ‘unfavorable weather conditions’ in the summer months, according to the CAF.