by ‘Ifreke Inyang
Africa’s biggest football competition starts this weekend. It is going to be 28 days of soccer fiesta played with typical African passion, power and skill. The absence of powerhouses like Nigeria, Cameroun, South Africa, etc will not be in action as the minnows who have shocked many football pundits hug the limelight.
Some of the continent’s most talented exports who play in Europe have returned for the tournament. Of all the foreign leagues they have migrated from, it is the English Premier League that will seemingly suffer most. Manchester United and Liverpool are probably the top clubs who have no player departing. But from big spending Manchester City to Arsenal to Wigan Athletic who are battling away at the wrong end of the table, they will all be losing players.
Yaya and Kolo Toure – Manchester City
In a recent interview, Manchester City coach, Roberto Mancini who favours rotation, said that he has looked through his squad and didn’t find a replacement for Yaya Toure. It is no exaggeration. The lanky midfielder has the best passing in the league – an average of 79.4%. His elder brother who is no longer first choice has also proven to be a tested stand-in when called upon. He would have been an excellent replacement for Kompany who is currently serving a lengthy ban.
Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba – Chelsea
The Ivorian strikers will… As Fernando Torres continues to fumble, . Didier Drogba has been the West Londoners main threat this season, .. his physical presence and brilliant link up play will be sorely missed. Kalou’s absence
Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh – Arsenal
Arsenal will be missing the direct play and pace of Gervinho. Chamakh has been frustrating and out of sorts this season, but the Ivorian who arrived in the summer has been a real source of goals for the Gunners – before he left, he provided five assists, more than any player. He and Walcott have been a constant presence on the wing this season in Arsene Wenger’s team.
Demba Ba and Cheikh Tiote – Newcastle
Newcastle’s Demba Ba has been responsible for 60% of the club’s goals this term. And that statistic basically says it all. Tiote, who will be representing Ivory Coast at the tournament has been a key figure in the centre of midfield for the Tyneside club. The enforcer who has caught the eye of bigger clubs, has brought grit and stability, with energetic displays and tough tackling.
Mohamed Diame – Wigan
On Monday against Manchester City, Diame was sorely missed in Wigan Athletic’s midfield. The Senegalese enforcer’s ability to break up play and start attack was absent as David Silva had the freedom of the Etihad Stadium to spray passes and dictate play. The club would have to be without him for as long as he is away in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Adel Taarabat and Armand Traore – QPR
Taarabat is easily Queens Park Rangers’ go-to player. He’s essentially their creative force and one of their most important players. He will be away representing Morocco. Armand Traore has chosen to represent Senegal, after representing France at junior level. Mark Hughes, the new coach of the club would have a bit of trouble getting a stand-in who will match his pace and crossing skills from left back.