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AFCON- Africa Cup of Nations

From Zaha to Partey: 10 stars who won't be part of AFCON 2023

Published at :January 10, 2024 at 1:30 PM
Modified at :January 13, 2024 at 11:37 AM
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Manav Chowdhury


Some big names will be missing the upcoming tournament in Ivory Coast

The 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) takes place in Ivory Coast from January 13 to February 11. AFCON remains the most prestigious nations’ tournament on the African continent. It is a competition where top stars show their quality as they seek to win the ultimate trophy for their country. While there will be superstars galore on show at the AFCON starting next week, there will also be many who will miss the Ivory Coast-hosted event due to injury and other reasons.

Here we look at the top ten African stars to miss AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast:

10. Baba Rahman (Ghana)

Baba Rahman said he won’t play for Ghana at the AFCON in Ivory Coast to recover fully from his previous injuries. The 29-year-old has had two anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgeries and meniscus operations in his career. According to him, the injuries have haunted him recently when he was booed by Ghanaians during a game against Central African Republic in Kumasi.

9. Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon)

Bryan Mbeumo Libya vs Cameroon
Bryan Mbeumo sustained a knee injury in Brentford’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton on December 6, which will cause him to be out for three months

Mbeumo has been in unstoppable form for Brentford in the Premier League so far this season and was expected to carry the form to the 2023 AFCON. Unfortunately, Cameroon will have to look elsewhere for goals at the AFCON as the 24-year-old had to undergo surgery for a knee injury he sustained in Brentford’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton on December 6, which will cause him to be out for three months.

8. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Cameroon)

On 11 May 2010, Choupo-Moting earned his first call-up for the Cameroon national team and represented Cameroon at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Unfortunately, he missed out on the squad which is going to participate in AFCON, the absence of the Bayern Munich star shocked many across the continent but coach Rigobert Song says he selected the best and the players that fit his style.

7. Thomas Partey (Ghana)

Arsenal midfielder, Thomas Partey has been left out of Ghana’s squad for the AFCON after suffering from fitness issues this season.  He was named in their 55-man preliminary squad but was left out eventually. He has missed many games for Arsenal since October while Ghana’s coach, Chris Hughton described his absence as one of the biggest in the squad. Arsenal coach, Mikel Arteta also explained that Partey pushed to go to the AFCON but was far from returning to competitive football.

6. Lyle Foster (South Africa)

Unlike many other Premier League stars who picked up physical injuries, the Soweto-born Lyle Foster has been battling mental health issues for the past few months. He plays for Burnley FC, who have gone to great lengths to explain why his health would suffer greatly if he played for Bafana Bafana at the Nations Cup. Burnley manager Vincent Kompany said Foster has made great progress, but he needed to concentrate on building his mental health at the Premier League club.

5. Issahaku Fatawu (Ghana)

Unlike other absentees, Ghana forward, Fatawu, is not missing the AFCON due to injury. Caught between club career and national team allegiance, Fatawu opted against playing at the AFCON to meet his loan deal requirements from Sporting CP to Leicester. The 19-year-old, according to reports, opted to miss the AFCON to meet up with a clause in his contract that requires him to play some games to make his move permanent to the Foxes.

4. Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

Wilfred Zaha’s omission from the Ivory Coast squad has come as a surprise for many, especially among fans of the host nation. Having been in fine form for the Turkish outfit, it was shocking to see him dropped for the tournament on home soil. While details of his ouster are not known, there are reports that coach Jean-Louis Gasset overlooked the 31-year-old after missing the qualifiers for the AFCON as well as the first round of qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

3. Cheick Doucouré (Mali)

A few days ago, Crystal Palace coach Roy Hodgson confirmed that Doucoure would be out for some time with a snapped Achilles tendon. This was a shattering blow for Mali who rely heavily on him to carry the national team.

2. Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

Wilfred Ndidi Nigeria
Ndidi will be missing AFCON 2023 due to injury

Wilfred Ndidi will be a big miss for Nigeria. He has in recent times been the pivot holding the Super Eagles together. Ndidi was named in the final squad but an injury meant he had to be replaced by Alhassan Yussuf. Leicester boss Enzo Maresca says the midfielder faces up to three months on the sidelines, which could affect his side’s bid to return to the Premier League.

1. Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

The former Manchester United defender had a turbulent Christmas after going from missing the AFCON squad to seeing his contract terminated at Besiktas. Luckily for the Ivorian, he secured a contract with former club Villareal before New Year. Ivory Coast have suffered two big blows since two of their key players will not be able to contribute to this tournament.

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