Sixteen Premier League clubs and Rangers are set to be impacted by the Africa Cup of Nations in January and February. Who are they? And which players could be absent?
The Africa Cup of Nations will run from January 9 to February 6, with 40 Premier League players potentially being called up for duty for the tournament in Cameroon.
Those called up to AFCON could miss at least one Premier League round (weekend of January 15/16), the FA Cup third round (weekend of January 8) and the Carabao Cup semi-finals (w/c January 3 and January 10) in the best-case scenario.
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In December, it was confirmed by the Confederation of African Football [CAF] that players heading to the finals will be allowed to feature for their clubs until January 3.
Many were set to miss matches because of the rule that dictates clubs must release players 14 days before a continental championship or the World Cup.
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Algeria beat Senegal 1-0 to win the 2019 tournament
But CAF has agreed to allow players to appear for their clubs between December 27 and January 3 before joining up with their national squads for the Cup of Nations finals, which kick off in Cameroon on January 9.
Depending on when clubs release their players, and how fit they are on return, in the worst case, players could miss four Premier League rounds, both Carabao Cup semi-finals and both the FA Cup third and fourth rounds.
That could prove a problem for teams like Liverpool, who will likely see Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita selected for the tournament, as well as Watford (five players are set to feature), Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Leicester (all four players).
Due to Covid-19 impacting the World Cup qualifying schedules, there will also be a double round of fixtures in the South American (CONMEBOL), North and Central American (CONCACAF), Asian (AFC) and Oceanic (OFC) confederations in late January and early February, though these games will fall during the Premier League’s winter break.
However, there could be complications for the FA Cup fourth round on the weekend of February 5, with some CONCACAF Qualifiers not finishing until the early hours of February 3.
Here, we run through the clubs impacted by AFCON, the players potentially involved, and the games they could miss.
Riyad Mahrez helped Algeria win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019
Premier League teams will need to release their players for AFCON after the final top-flight games before the tournament taking place across January 1, 2 and 3.
The Carabao Cup semi-final first leg is scheduled for the midweek of January 3 and the FA Cup third round is scheduled for the weekend of January 8, with AFCON kicking off on January 9 and the group stages finishing on January 20. In that period, the Carabao Cup semi-final second legs are scheduled for the midweek of January 10, and there will be a Premier League round across January 14, 15 and 16.
There is also a Premier League round scheduled across January 21, 22 and 23, but players may be able to return in time to feature for their club. Liverpool, for example, have three players likely to feature at AFCON, but play on January 23 at Crystal Palace, three days after the group stage finishes.
Kepa Arrizabalaga would likely replace Edouard Mendy
The AFCON round of 16 takes place from January 23 to January 26, meaning players whose nations qualify for the knockout stages will be unavailable for the Premier League.
The AFCON quarter-finals (January 29 and 30), semi-finals (February 2 and 3) and final/third-place play-off (February 6) could impact the FA Cup fourth-round ties, scheduled for the weekend of February 5, before the Premier League returns on the midweek of February 8 and 9 after the winter break.
January 1, 2 and 3 – Premier League round 21
Midweek of January 3 – Carabao Cup semi-final first leg
Weekend of January 8 – FA Cup third round
January 9 – AFCON group stage starts
Midweek of January 10 – Carabao Cup semi-final second leg
January 14, 15, 16 – Premier League round 22
January 20 – AFCON group stage ends
January 21, 22 and 23 – Premier League round 23
January 23 to 26 – AFCON last 16
January 29 and 30 – AFCON quarter-finals
February 2 and 3 – AFCON semi-finals
Weekend of February 5 – FA Cup fourth round
February 6 – AFCON final and third-place play-off
February 8 and 9 – Premier League round 24
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Which PL clubs are impacted?
Thomas Partey is likely to be involved with Ghana
Players selected: Thomas Partey (Ghana), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Omar Rekik (Tunisia)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 9: Nottingham Forest (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 16: Tottenham (A); Jan 22: Burnley (H); Feb 8: Wolves (A)
Players selected: Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso), Trezeguet (Egypt)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 10: Manchester United (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Man Utd (H); Jan 22: Everton (A); Feb 8: Leeds (H)
Players selected: Frank Onyeka (Nigeria), Julian Jeanvier (Guinea), Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: Port Vale (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Liverpool (A); Jan 22: Wolves (H); Feb 9: Man City (A)
Player selected: Yves Bissouma (Mali)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: West Brom (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 14: Crystal Palace (H); Jan 22: Leicester (A); Feb 8: Chelsea (H)
Player selected: Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: Huddersfield Town (H)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Leicester (H); Jan 22: Arsenal (A); Feb 8: Man Utd (H)
Hakim Ziyech has been left out of the Morocco squad
Player selected: Edouard Mendy (Senegal)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: Chesterfield (H)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Man City (A); Jan 23: Tottenham (H); Feb 8: Brighton (A)
Players selected: Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Jordan Ayew (Ghana), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana), Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: Millwall (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 14: Brighton (A); Jan 23: Liverpool (H); Feb 8: Norwich (A)
Player selected: Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: Hull City (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Norwich (A); Jan 22: Aston Villa (H); Feb 9: Newcastle (A)
Players selected: Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: Watford (H)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Burnley (A); Jan 22: Brighton (H); Jan 9: Liverpool (A)
Players selected: Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Naby Keita (Guinea)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 9: Shrewsbury Town (H)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Brentford (H); Jan 23: Crystal Palace (A); Feb 9: Leicester (H)
Sadio Mane is likely to be called up by Senegal
Player selected: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 7: Swindon Town (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Chelsea (H); Jan 22: Southampton (A); Feb 9: Brentford (H)
Players selected: Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast), Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast), Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 10: Aston Villa (H)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Aston Villa (A); Jan 22: West Ham (H); Feb 8: Burnley (A)
Players selected: Moussa Djenepo (Mali)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: Swansea (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Wolves (A); Jan 22: Man City (H); Feb 9: Tottenham (A)
Players selected: Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria), William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria), Imran Louza (Morocco), Adam Masina (Morocco), Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 8: Leicester (A)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Newcastle (A); Jan 21: Norwich (H); Feb 8: West Ham (A)
Players selected: Said Benrahma (Algeria)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 9: Leeds (H)
PL games impacted: Jan 16: Leeds (H); Jan 22: Man Utd (A); Feb 8: Watford (H)
Players selected: Willy Boly (Ivory Coast), Romain Saiss (Morocco)
FA Cup game impacted: Jan 9: Sheffield United (H)
PL games impacted: Jan 15: Southampton (H); Jan 22: Brentford (A); Feb 8: Arsenal (H)
Any players heading from the EFL?
- Middlesbrough: James Lea Siliki (Cameroon)
- Fulham: Jean Michael Seri (Ivory Coast)
- Nottingham Forest: Mohamed Drager (Tunisia)
- QPR: Ilias Chair (Morocco), Seny Dieng (Senegal), Osman Kakay (Sierra Leone)
- Reading: Baba Abdul Rahman (Ghana), Andy Yiadom (Ghana)
- Plymouth Argyle: Panutchi Pereira Camara (Guinea-Bissau)
- Swindon Town: Jojo Wollacott (Ghana)
What about SPFL players?
Derek McInnes says Joe Aribo will be a loss to Rangers if the midfielder is selected to represent Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations
Players selected: Joe Aribo (Nigeria), Leon Balogun (Nigeria)
Scottish Cup game impacted: Jan 21: Stirling Albion (H)
Scottish Premiership games impacted: Jan 18: Aberdeen (A), Jan 26: Livingston (H), Jan 29: Ross County (A), Feb 2: Celtic (A), Feb 6: Hearts (H)
Player selected: Ferdinand Mendy (Guinea-Bissau)
Scottish League One games impacted: Jan 8: Montrose (A), Jan 15: Queen’s Park (H), Jan 29: Clyde (A), Feb 5: Peterhead (A)
Sky Sports to show AFCON live
The Africa Cup of Nations tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in January and February.
The tournament, originally scheduled to be played in June and July 2021, will be played in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, with Sky Sports showing all 52 games live.
Twenty-four teams will take part, kicking off on January 9 as hosts Cameroon host Burkina Faso in Yaounde, before culminating in the final on February 6 in the capital.
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