- With less than two days before the start of this year’s AFCON, teams are currently in the later stages of preparation
- Whereas we expect to see the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in action, not every top African player will be with their country in Ivory Coast
- Arsenal and Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey is one of the big names that will miss this year’s tournament
There are several players who will miss AFCON this year, but who are the most popular ones? With less than two days before the start of the Africa Cup of Nations, a good number of players have already left their clubs and returned to Africa to represent their countries. Teams are currently in the later stages of preparation as it is just a matter of time before the action kicks off in Ivory Coast.
From Sadio Mane and Victor Osimhen to Premier League duo Mohamed Salah and Mohammed Kudus, there are plenty of stars who are ready to shine at the event. However, not every top African player will be with their country in Ivory Coast. Here, we bring you top five players who will miss AFCON this year and the reason for their absence. So, stick with us to the end.
1. Thomas Partey – Ghana
Arsenal and Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey has been among the best African footballers in Europe for some time now. Whilst many expected to see him dominate Ghana’s midfield at the AFCON this year, he has been left out of coach Chris Hughton’s final squad due to fitness issues.
Partey was named in Ghana’s 55-man preliminary squad but couldn’t recover on time to represent the Black Stars. The 30-year-old has been out since October last year and AFCON comes too early for him.
2. Wilfried Zaha – Ivory Coast
Wilfried Zaha’s omission from Ivory Coast’s squad has come as a surprise to many considering he is one of the top African players in Europe. Zaha last played for Ivory Coast at the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon and coach Jean-Louis Gasset decided to overlook him after he missed this year’s AFCON qualifiers and the first round of qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
3. Eric Bailly
Just like Zaha, there is no place for Eric Bailly in Ivory Coast’s squad. The former Manchester United man has had it rough, from being one of the top players who will miss AFCON to having his contract terminated by Besiktas. Fortunately for him, he has been signed by La Liga club Villareal where he will be looking forward to regaining his best form.
4. Bryan Mbuemo – Cameroon
Cameroon showed a heroic performance in the last AFCON tournament reaching the semi-final. With Vincent Aboubakar and Bryan Mbuemo, the Indomitable Lions would have been very dangerous in Ivory Coast this year.
However, they have been forced to prepare for the tournament without Mbuemo who has undergone ligament surgery and is set to be out for several weeks. Mbuemo plays for Brentford in the Premier League and has scored seven goals while recording three assists.
5. Wilfred Ndindi – Nigeria
Nigeria can be described as a sleeping giant in African football. But with rising stars such as Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze, the Super Eagles are among the teams to watch out for in the 2023 AFCON. However, coach Jose Peseiro will be without one of the players who has been crucial for the Super Eagles for the past few years, Wilfred Ndindi. The Leicester City man withdrew from this year’s AFCON due to injury and is expected to miss Championship action for some time.
The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations is expected to be a very interesting and competitive tournament, as Senegal’s Sadio Mane said. Whereas there are several players who will miss AFCON this year, there are many others to keep an eye on throughout the tournament in Ivory Coast. Senegal will be trying their best to defend the title they won in 2022 but will face fierce competition from the likes of Egypt, Morocco and Ivory Coast, who are also considered to be favourites.
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