The 2021 AFCON is on after being postponed twice, and despite the competition bringing together the top stars across Europe and Africa, some key players in the Premier League missed out due to one reason or another.
Ordinarily, most players in the Premier League would walk into any team currently taking part in the 2021 AFCON. But injuries, misunderstandings with their national squad setups, and being overlooked have been the case for several star players.
Here we have a look at some of them:
A top signing two seasons ago for Chelsea, Ziyech’s international career has taken a negative twist owing to a disagreement with the Moroccan national team coach. In June of 2021, Ziyech refused to take to the pitch claiming he was injured, an act that angered coach Vahid Halilhodzic and generated a heated exchange between the two. When the squad list for AFCON 2021 was released, as expected, he wasn’t there. His absence at AFCON is a win for Chelsea, though, who have a tough run of matches and are already without goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
Nigerian midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo is another top player missing in the competition. Etebo had an impressive start to life at Watford as a Stoke City loanee before suffering a thigh injury. By the time the Nigeria squad was named, he was back to training, but Watford declined to release him to focus more on his rehabilitation after injury. Meanwhile, he was named in the initial Nigeria squad, with the promise that he wouldn’t be fielded in all of the Super Eagles matches. His club declined the offer.
Another Watford forward of Nigerian descent, Dennis is not part of the Nigeria squad at AFCON despite his electric start to life in the Premier League. Dennis is the Watford top scorer, but a row emerged between his club and Nigeria, the club stating that the request from Nigeria didn’t come in time. His absence once again is a win for Watford, who are battling to stay up.
Watford is set to face the bottom three teams in their next three matches, and holding on to their top scorer will boost them in the Premier League predictions on SportyTrader. For a team that has suffered seven straight losses, this is big, and it is no wonder they tried to hold on to Ismaila Sarr as well, but Senegal won the tug of war to have their man.
Zimbabwean midfielder Marvelous Nakamba of Aston Villa is another top player in the ongoing AFCON 2021. The midfielder suffered a knee injury in December 2021 and needed surgery. Initial reports placed his period out at 12 weeks, which ruled him out of the AFCON tournament. He had cemented his place in the team after the arrival of Steven Gerrard as manager, and his injury is a blow to Zimbabwe.
The Cameroonian defender once again rejected a call up for the tournament, extending his international exile that started in 2017. The Liverpool man has now missed the last three AFCON competitions, the first of which Cameroon emerged winners after beating Egypt in the final.