Which Premier League clubs will be most affected by AFCON?

4 January 2024

Which Premier League clubs will be most affected by AFCON?

With AFCON taking place from 13 January to 11 February, here’s a look at the Premier Leagueclubs that will be most affected by the unavailability of their African stars. (Stream every Premier League game live on Showmax with Showmax Premier League Mobile.)


The Reds are only going to have one player missing, but he’s been one of the most influential players in the modern Premier League era.

Mohamed Salah has not just been scoring goals at his usual rate, he’s also been setting up many chances for others during Liverpool’s impressive start to the season.

In terms of numbers, Liverpool have plenty of attacking options in the squad who will be motivated by the opportunity to replace him. The big question for Jurgen Klopp is which front three should he pick without Salah.

Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo. Good luck deciding which of those four should be part of a starting three.

Manchester United

For many years, one of the burning questions at Old Trafford is where the club would be without David de Gea. With AFCON coming up, now the question is where will they be without his replacement.

Andre Onana has had a mixed start since his big-money signing from Inter Milan. It’s clearly going to take time before he’s completely settled in. Now someone else is going to have to go through a similar process.

Altay Bayindir looks to be the most likely to step into the fray. He’s only recently signed from Fenerbahce and has yet to make his Premier League debut.

The Turk will relish the opportunity to show his worth in Onana’s absence, though, and with games against fellow top four contenders Tottenham and Aston Villa in that AFCON window, he’s sure to get many shots on goal testing him.


Spurs have undergone an attacking revolution under Ange Postecoglou and they will face a testing period during AFCON when they will be without two of their generals that cover for the team in the middle of the field.

Yves Bissouma and Pape Matar Sarr have both had important roles to play in central midfield within the tactical system at Tottenham and how they make do without their African stars will be fascinating.

With games against a desperate Manchester United, a resurgent Everton and an impressive Brighton in that period, whoever steps in their shoes better get up to speed immediately.


Roberto de Zerbi has shown that he’s not afraid to rotate players regularly, but you can already see the Brighton squad depth being tested in the first season where they’ve also had to juggle UEFA fixtures.

The Seagulls could be missing the services of three West Africans with Simon Adingra, Carlos Baleba and Tariq Lamptey all available to play for Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana respectively.

While the fixture list is somewhat kind to them during that period, they can’t afford to let too many clubs gain ground on them if they are to repeat their impressive exploits last season.

West Ham

The African contingent has grown at West Ham and they will have to make do without many of their attacking threats in the new year.

Mohammed Kudus has had a huge impact since his arrival and will be on national duty for Ghana. With Maxwel Cornet also available for hosts Ivory Coast, they might be short of a backup option as well.

The skilfull Said Benrahma should also be unavailable. Thankfully their signing of James Ward-Prowse has made them less reliant on the Algerian when it comes to set pieces.

The Hammers defence will also have to deal with the absence of Nayef Aguerd.

Nottingham Forest

Forest could be the one that gets tested the most by AFCON as they have no fewer than seven African players in their first team squad.

They could be missing both of their regular centre backs (Willy Boly and Moussa Niakhate), two right backs (Serge Aurier and Ola Aina), two defensive midfielders (Ibrahim Sangara and Cheikhou Kouyate) as well as their leading striker Taiwo Awoniyi.

For a team that needs to make sure it doesn’t slip into the relegation zone, the January/February period will without doubt be their most testing time of the season.

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