5 notable players missing out at AFCON 2021

Missing out on international games can be a sickening experience for football stars and their home fans looking forward to seeing them bolster the chances of the national team with their club experiences.

When you consider that international tournaments are not like regular club games, qualifying for international competitions means a lot to football stars. But sometimes, they can’t play for their country despite their qualification. It’s a big blow for them when they have to watch their compatriots from their sofas.

In the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021, a handful of top African players making waves in European leagues are missing in action for their country. Here, we take a look at some of them who were looking forward to the tournament before their plans were disrupted.

Victor Osimhen

The GOtv ambassador, who had initially declared his availability for AFCON 2021 in a tweet in December 2021, was ruled out of the tournament after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Napoli forward, who has been a regular starter for the Serie club, made a stunning recovery from a horrific facial injury that was supposed to rule him out for three months and was preparing to join the Super Eagles at AFCON 2021 before contacting COVID-19.

He has been a playmaker for Napoli, netting 10 times in 24 games. Nigeria misses him at the front.

Yao Kouassi aka Gervinho

An injury blow has denied Gervinho the opportunity to represent Ivory Coast at AFCON 2021, in what could have been his last AFCON appearance for the West African country.

The 34-year-old was one of the 30 players listed to represent The Elephants in Cameroon before suffering a tear in the tendon during his side Trabzonspor’s 2-1 win against Rizespor in the Turkish league in October 2021.

Although The Elephants finished the group stage with seven points defeating defending champions Algeria 3-1 in their final group match, Gervinho’s experience could have made a difference on the team.

His 23 goals in 86 games for the national team is not a mean feat.

Krepin Diatta

The 22-year-old Monaco winger hoped to make his second AFCON appearance for Senegal when he had a ligament fracture injury in a Ligue 1 game against Lille on November 19, 2021, after scoring his first Ligue 1 goal.

In his AFCON debut in 2019, Diatta was named Best Young Player of the tournament, and there is no doubt that Senegal would miss him on the team.

Paul Onuachu

With 33 goals and five assists in 38 games for his Belgian club, KRC Genk, in the 2020/2021 season and 12 goals so far from 18 games in the 2021/2022 season, Onuachu’s presence at AFCON 2021 could have made a huge difference in Nigeria’s attack.

The Super Eagles have been criticised for missing goal chances in their last two AFCON group games, which confirms there’s a missing link on the team.

The 27-year-old forward missed the tournament after suffering a hamstring injury last December and was ruled out for at least a month.

Onuachu was the Belgian League’s Player of the Year, KRC Genk’s Player of the Year and the league’s highest goalscorer in 2020/21. The striker will miss the tournament after being ruled out for at least a month.

The Super Eagles must be missing his impact.

Hakim Ziyech

The 28-year-old Chelsea midfielder is missing in action for Morocco.

He was dropped from the team after reportedly falling out with Vahid Halilhodzic, the Morocco head coach. His former Ajax teammate, Noussair Mazraoui, also suffered the same fate.

It may not have come to Ziyech as a surprise. He probably saw that coming, considering that he was not called to play in Morocco’s six World Cup qualifiers, and last played for Morocco in June 2021.

The two teams tipped by pundits to make the AFCON 2021 final are Morocco and Nigeria, and they have been exceptional so far in their group matches.

All round of 16 games will be showing live in HD on SuperSport on DStv with expert analyses and pidgin commentary. Viewers can download the DStv app to watch the games live on the go.

For more information, visit www.dstvafrica.com or download the MyDStv app to reconnect and other self-service options.

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