Wed 05 January 2022 | 14:30

AFCON 2021: Biggest stars who will miss the tournament

As the 2021 Africa cup of nations is set to occur between 9 Jan and 6 Feb, countries have announced their 28 member squads. But some stars can not represent their countries in this edition of the AFCON. Let's dig deep to know more about AFCON 2021: Biggest stars who will miss the tournament.

2021 Africa Cup of Nations is regulated to be the 33rd edition of the

Africa Cup of Nations

, the biennial international men's football championship of Africa governed by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

The 2021 edition of AFCON is an expanded one because 24 national teams are taking part in it for the first time in the history of the tournament.

While the tournament had been already postponed two times, first in the cope of Cameroonian hot summer and then for the repercussions of Pandemic, some rumours were spread that cast doubt over the occurrence of the tournament.

These were for the case of the infrastructure in host nation Cameroon and recently for the emerging condition of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 that might incur crippling damages to the world of football.

Yet the tournament has not been cancelled and the 24 countries involved are bound to register their final squad of 28 players 10 days before their first match as per the Confederation of African Football (CAF) regulations.

But it seems that

AFCON 2021

is disrespected and it was a bit shocking to see media around the world have been victims of racism, expressing concern over the absence of African stars in the clubs around Europe, rather than otherwise those stars who would miss AFCON 2021.

Nobody denies that Premier League clubs could be missing a chunk of players from the involving countries, but the honour of representing one's country should not be undervalued at all. Just like the way it had not been underestimated in the Euro 2020.

Just for evidence, if you had searched Euro 2020 before it occurred last summer, you would come up with a raft of articles like “players who will light up Euro 2020" or “players at

Euro 2020

who your club could sign”, but miserably almost against the decency of human beings, this is not the case for AFCON.

Instead, if you have searched the title of the current article, you would be astonished to see how frequent are the articles concerning “players who will be missing for your club during AFCON and what games they will miss".

Besides, you might have noticed that how fans have been rejoicing at rumours of the AFCON postponement across social media. If it is set to be cancelled for Covid-19 restrictions, why other tournaments are taking place?

If you consider yourself as a fan of football clubs and not the national teams, although players absence on their clubs might not find you very well, this is not the case for most of the players themselves.

Because it is their performance in their national side that is constant and they might be sidelined after a few years by their clubs. If you are worried about the stars probable injuries or now Covid-19, this could befall a player at any stage of his career.

Having said all of these you might have understood that


is as momentous as any other tournament in the world and how unfortunate are the stars that could not participate for their own reasons.

AFCON 2021: Biggest stars who will miss the tournament

Here we have compiled the list of the biggest stars who will not be honoured to take part in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Florentin Pogba

The elder brother of

Paul Pogba

could feature in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations for Guinea national team if the injury had not impeded his career.

Especially when Ligue 2 club FC Sochaux-Montbéliard defender who had linked with a move to Arsenal and Everton several years ago, had already the experience of representing his country in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

That is to say, he starred full 90 minutes of their first group match of AFCON 2015, which was a 1–1 draw against Ivory Coast, and started the second match against Cameroon, until he was substituted just before half-time with a thigh injury.

But unfortunately, he would not be one of the

African Cup of Nations Players

in 2021, because he underwent a knee injury and a tendon pull in action for French club Sochaux earlier this month.

While a scan verified that he could not star at least until the end of January, Guinea coach Kaba Diawara, who had initially named his squad on 20 December, has called up two other home-based players, Fode Camara from Horoya and Gaoussou Yousouf Siby from Wakrya, in replacement of Florentin Pogba and Antoine Conte in their squad for 2021 editions of the tournament.

Guinea would compete along within Group B alongside Senegal, Zimbabwe and Malawi, kicking off in Cameroon on 9 January.

Ademola Lookman

One of the biggest stars who will miss the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is the Leicester City winger who has started to score goals in premier league.

In other words not only he could score a goal in his side defeat to Manchester City but also most amazingly on 28 December 2021, he put away the only goal of their 1-0 triumph over Liverpool.

While he previously capped for England at U-19, U-20 and U-21 levels and helped them win the U-20 World Cup in 2017, in October he applied to change his allegiance to Nigeria, which is his parent's nationality.

That is the reason why ex-Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, added the 24-year-old to the preliminary provisional list for the AFCON, on the ground of having his clearance process completed before the start of AFCON.

However, later The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) indicated that Ademola Lookman will not play for the country at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, because he has not yet been cleared by the World Football body, FIFA to represent Nigeria on the International stage.

Thereby, the interim Head Coach Austin Eguavoen axed him from Nigeria’s final list of 28 for the AFCON 2021, depriving him of the opportunity to accompany 2013

Africa Cup of Nations Winners, 

in their probably next AFCON glory.

While Nigeria has been in desperate need of creativity and speed down the left-wing, he could have been a breath of fresh air and he could have challenged captain

Ahmed Musa

for his place, being an utterly wonderful choice to have on the bench in the encounter with teams like Egypt.

Kevin Akpoguma

Although the Hoffenheim centre-back has been in fine form for his German side, which has grabbed fifth place in the Bundesliga, he has not been among the eventual squad of Nigeria for the

2021 Africa Cup of Nations


With his four goals (two goals and two assists) contribution to the club's top-four challenge, he has undoubtedly proved himself as a reliable footballer.

But his name was not among thee Nigeria's 2021 AFCON squad and thereby he expressed his sheer disappointment for this omission in the following terms: “How should I feel, it was obvious, the people there, they know what they do”.

As Nigeria's current centre-backs have seldom contributed in attack, Akpoguma could have been a revelation for them.

This is while he already had the advantage of receiving frequent call-ups for the Eagles under former coach, Gernot Rohr, being the country’s most in-form player in Europe’s top five leagues.

From the time he switched allegiance from Germany to the West African country, he appeared four times for the Eagles and despite being called up for the six games of the Eagles, his most recent cap occurred in November 2020 in a 2021 AFCON qualifier that was a goalless draw against Serie Leone.

But the Super Eagles interim coach, Augustine Eguavoen, excluded some in-form foreign base players from the 28-man squad of Nigeria for the AFCON 2021.

As a result, Kevin Akpoguma has not been the only biggest star of his national side that would miss the tournament, since foreign base players like Tyronne Ebuehi, Cyriel Dessers, Calvin Bassey and Akinkunmi Amoo have been surprisingly omitted from the squad apart from Oghenekaro Etebo and Paul Onuachu, who missed it for injuries.

With the exception of Oghenekaro Etebo that would be elaborated on later in the article, most of these aforementioned players have been in an utter good form; therefore they are considered as the honourable mentions in our list of the biggest stars who will miss the AFCON 2021.

Emmanuel Dennis

Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis is one of the other biggest stars who will miss the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations; following that Nigerian Football Federation announced that his club are “baring fangs”.

Dennis who has started his debut Premier League season strongly and has racked up eight goals and five assists in 16 appearances for his side, could earn his place among Nigeria's squad, being an integral part of his team who were previously 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Winners.

But Watford did not release him in the cope of not being requested in time by the Nigerian federation as Watford manager

Claudio Ranieri

expressed that Nigeria missed the deadline to inform Watford of their intention to select Dennis. Thereby this gave Watford the power to make the decision whether to let the 24-year-old striker feature for international duty or not.

Yet, Ranieri emphasised that they are not being disrespectful towards AFCON by any sense of the word and that Dennis has consented to the decision to be kept at Vicarage Road.

Ranieri indicated as saying: No, no, no - we respect everybody, they (Nigeria) have a lot of players, and they changed the manager then they change everything, and then we were ready.”

While on the other side of the coin, Super Eagles interim coach, Austin Eguavoen told NFF TV that Dennis told him his club threatened him to miss the

2021 Africa Cup of Nations

, indicating that his club had done everything humanly possible for him not to be at AFCON

Paul Onuachu

After that the Nigerian striker Paul Onuachu underwent a Grade A hamstring injury in a Belgian Jupiler League club, Genk’s 1-1 home draw against Royal Antwerp, he would not cap for his national side on 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

In as much as the 27-year-old attacker put away 12 goals in 18 league matches this season until incurring the injury, he had been undoubtedly one of Nigeria's most in-form strikers in Europe.

He had shown brilliantly because he had picked up the honour to be the Belgian League's Player of the Year, KRC Genk's Player of the Year and the league's highest goalscorer in 2020/21.

Yet, following his heroics in the 2020/21 season, the rangy striker fall short to be that much consistent in the Belgian league this season due to his injury and thereby would miss AFCON 2021, after that he has been sidelined for at least a month.

Joel Matip

Liverpool centre back Joel Matip who was born and raised in Germany had represented Cameroon on the international stage, but he is reluctant to cap anymore for his national side and the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is not an exception.

The 30-year-old


ace announced his retirement unofficially, adding fuel to the fire of controversy in Cameroon and refused to play for the 2017 AFCON despite being selected.

While Cameroon went on to win the title in his absence that year, he still has declined an invitation to resume his international career with Cameroon, according to head coach Toni Conceicao.

While he was a full Cameroon international in 2010 starting in the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a teenager, along with the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he has not capped for his national side since 2015, indicating the bad experience he had with the coaching staff and his dissatisfaction with the national set-up as the reasons behind his retirement.

Oghenekaro Etebo

One of the other Nigerian previous African cup of Nations players who would not accompany his national side on AFCON 2021 is Watford midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo.

Since Stoke City transferred him on loan to Watford, he could make an incredible feat at Vicarage Road until he picked up an unfortunate torn quad injury in his Premier League match against Newcastle United in September that eventually saw him go under the knife.

The 26-year-old Watford midfielder who had already a member of the Super Eagles team that claimed bronze in the 2019 AFCON, and even more impressive was their best stars at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, started his recovery program for less than a month and would not be ready to represent his side at 2021 AFCON Cup of Nations.

Victor Osimhen

After that Napoli striker

Victor Osimhen

had a head clash during his club 3-2 defeat to Inter Milan in November, he sustained several serious injuries of facial fractures and thereby underwent surgery on his cheekbone and eye socket on 23 November.

While he was initially ruled out of action for three months and appeared on training wearing a protective mask, Napoli intended to keep him away from the continental tournament while Nigeria was looking forward to seeing him playing a crucial role in the finals of AFCON 2021 that would kick-off on 9 January.

Therefore he was included on Nigeria's initial squad of

2021 Africa Cup of Nations

following that the U-17 World Cup winner confirmed himself fit to feature in the tournament.

The former Lille striker who had already tested positive for the Coronavirus last year was set to leave his club so as to show his loyalty for his national team and then come back to also play the Juventus match on January 6; however, his PCR test confirmed positive again, letting peace settle over his club and the NFF.

After all, Osimhen who is already one of the previous African Cup of Nations players, and won a bronze at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, has just recently celebrated his 23rd birthday and has a raft of opportunities ahead of him for playing other AFCON in the future.


The Ivorian star had just made his sixth league appearance following that he permanently moved to Turkish club Trabzonspor from Parma that he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in October.

As a result in the cope of picking up this injury, the former Arsenal and Lille star would not represent Ivory Coast for 2021 AFCON, being excluded from his side's 28-man squad.

While 34-year-old forward has capped more than 80 times for his national side, representing them at five Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and two World Cups, he could score 23 goals for them.

The omission of such an established player who was especially among 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Winners, would be undoubtedly a big miss for the Elephants who are in desperate need of regaining their first title since 2015.

Hakim Ziyech

Hakim Ziyech is arguably the biggest star who will miss the AFCON 2021 following that he was omitted by the Morocco manager Vahid Halilhodzic in the cope of their quarrel in June 2021.

After that the


left-footed winger declined to take to the pitch for a match against Ghana, due to an injury while the medical team had passed him utterly fit to play, sparks of animosity flared up between Ziyech and Halilhodzic.

Especially when their dispute had been continued on social media as the 28-year-old winger accused his manager of being a liar.

Although Ziyech is hailed from the Netherlands and represented Netherlands youth national team, he put away 17 goals in his 40 caps for Morocco too.

Yet, he has been deprived of capping anymore due to his clash with Halilhodzic and it is of little surprise to see him being dropped off from the squad of 2021 AFCON.

The reason why Halilhodzic excluded Chelsea dazzlers from the squad, has been indicated to be his reluctance to let players with negative attitudes feature in his team.

source: SportMob

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