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Stars Missing From AFCON

Despite the high number of Covid-19 cases reported in the host nation, the competition will go ahead as planned. We look at some of the biggest players set to miss this year’s event.

Stars Missing From AFCON

The 2021 CAF African Cup of Nations( AFCON) is set to kick off on the 9th of January in Cameroon. The prestigious continental tournament will be played for the first time with expanded 24 nations. Despite the high number of Covid-19 cases reported in the host nation, the competition will go ahead as planned. Let’s look at some of the biggest players set to miss this year’s event.  

Ademola Lookman

Ademola Lookman will not play for Nigeria at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations because he is yet to get clearance from FIFA. The 24-year-old Leicester City winger has also represented England at U-19, U-20, and U-21 levels.

However, in October, Lookman applied to switch his allegiance to Nigeria, where his parents come from. But the failure to get his clearance in time has forced coach Augustine Eguavoen not to name him in the final squad despite being on the provisional list. The speedy and creative youngster would have provided attacking depth in a squad consisting of prominent players like Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Victor Osimhen

Nigeria will have to try to win the continental trophy without in form Victor Osimhen who was ruled out of the competition due to health reasons.  Osimhen had sustained a nasty facial injury in late November and his club Napoli announced that the player would be ruled out of action for two to three months following his surgery. The 23-year-old striker who has scored 9 goals in all competitions this season returned to training in mid-December with a protective mask. But a week later, Napoli announced on their social media pages that he has tested positive for Covid-19 which forced him to withdraw from the competition. 

Marvelous Nakamba

Marvelous Nakamba who has made 12 Premier League appearances for Aston Villa this season will be a huge miss for Zimbabwe at this year’s AFCON. The 27-year-old defensive midfielder is expected to be out of action for three months due to a knee injury suffered during Villa’s 1-0 defeat against Liverpool in December. His injury is a major blow to Zimbabwe who have never progressed past the group stage of the tournament and have been drawn in Group B with Senegal, Guinea, and Malawi.

Hakim Ziyech

Hakim Ziyech is another notable player to miss this year’s tournament after being left out in Morocco’s squad after it was reported he had fallen out with the national team coach Vahid Halilhodzic. The 28-year-old Chelsea skilful winger hasn’t played for his country since June last year and missed all six World Cup qualifiers. And his omission from the squad comes as no surprise to many football fanatics. 

Morocco are pre-tournament favourites and are drawn in Group G along with Ghana, Comoros, and Gabon.

Peter Etebo

Peter Etebo adds to the list of Nigerian players set to miss this year’s continental showpiece in Cameroon. The 26-year-old midfielder had an impressive start to the Premier League making six appearances for Watford before missing action since September last year due to torn quad injury. His omission from the squad meant for him to focus on his rehabilitation from injury. Etebo has been an important member of the Super Eagles in recent years and carries a lot of experience with 38 appearances to his name. He was also part of the national team squad that earned a bronze medal in the 2019 AFCON in Egypt. 

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