The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is considered one of the most prestigious football tournaments on the continent. It brings together the best national teams from Africa, competing for the ultimate prize in African football. The 2021 edition of AFCON promises to be a thrilling spectacle, with several high-profile players expected to light up the tournament. However, due to various reasons such as injuries, club commitments, and personal issues, some top players are set to miss out on the action. In this article, we take a look at some of the star players who are likely not to feature in AFCON 2021.
Mohamed Salah – Egypt
One of the biggest names that could potentially miss AFCON 2021 is the Egyptian talisman, Mohamed Salah. The prolific forward has been in scintillating form for his club, Liverpool, in recent seasons, and his absence would undoubtedly be a massive blow for the Egyptian national team. Salah’s possible absence from the tournament can be attributed to ongoing discussions between Liverpool and the Egyptian Football Association regarding his availability. With the English Premier League season clashing with the AFCON schedule, clubs with African players face losing their stars during a crucial period in the domestic campaign.
Risk of Injuries and Fatigue
Another reason behind Salah’s potential absence from the tournament is the risk of injury and fatigue. The Egyptian has been playing non-stop football over the past few years, representing both his club and country in various competitions. Participating in AFCON 2021 could worsen the risk of injuries or cause burnout, which might affect his performances for Liverpool in the latter stages of the season. Therefore, both the club and the player might decide that it is in their best interest to skip the tournament.
Edmond Tapsoba – Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso’s rising star, Edmond Tapsoba, is another player who may miss AFCON 2021. The young central defender has been a revelation for his German club, Bayer Leverkusen, since joining them in early 2020. His performances have earned him praise from pundits and fans alike, making him one of the most sought-after defenders in European football. However, Tapsoba’s participation in AFCON 2021 remains uncertain due to ongoing negotiations between his club and the Burkina Faso Football Federation.
Club Commitments and Schedule Clashes
Similar to Salah’s situation with Liverpool, Tapsoba’s participation in AFCON could be hindered by club commitments and schedule clashes. Bayer Leverkusen are expected to be involved in several competitions during the period when AFCON takes place, and losing their defensive lynchpin would be a significant setback for the team. Additionally, considering Tapsoba’s importance to the squad, Leverkusen may be unwilling to release him for national duty during such a crucial stage of their campaign.
Kamaldeen Sulemana – Ghana
Ghanaian winger Kamaldeen Sulemana is a name that has been making waves across Europe, thanks to his impressive displays for Danish side FC Nordsjælland. The 19-year-old has attracted interest from some of the biggest clubs on the continent, and many believe that he has a bright future ahead of him. Despite being one of Ghana’s most promising talents, Sulemana’s involvement in AFCON 2021 is far from certain due to his age, inexperience, and club commitments.
Managing Expectations and Club Priorities
One of the reasons why Sulemana might not feature in AFCON 2021 is to shield him from the pressure and expectations that come with representing a football-mad nation like Ghana. At just 19 years old, Sulemana’s development could be hampered by too much exposure at such a young age. Furthermore, FC Nordsjælland may be unwilling to release their star winger for the tournament, given their domestic and European ambitions.
Other Notable Mentions
In addition to Salah, Tapsoba, and Sulemana, there are several other notable players who could miss out on AFCON 2021 action. Here is a list of some of these players:
- Riyad Mahrez (Algeria) – Manchester City commitments
- Sadio Mane (Senegal) – Liverpool commitments
- Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast) – Crystal Palace commitments
- Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast) – Arsenal commitments
- Hakim Ziyech (Morocco) – Chelsea commitments
While it is disappointing that some top players may not participate in AFCON 2021, the tournament will still showcase the abundance of talent present in African football. Fans can look forward to an exciting competition filled with skill, flair, and passion, as the continent’s best national teams battle it out for supremacy.