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Big names who will be missing at 2019 Afcon

The Africa Cup of Nations is a parade for the very best footballers on the continent to congregate once every two years. At least, that is what is meant to happen. Though most of the big names in African football made the cut to the June 21-July 19 tournament, there are few that will not be in Cairo on the account of their nations’ failure to qualify or injury.

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

He came close, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was not able to carry his Gabon team past Burundi in a sink or swim Group C decider, crashing out after a 1-1 draw in Bujumbura in the qualifiers. The 2015 Africa player of the year, is likely the West African country’s greatest player. His speed and finishing ability are world class and it’s a shame that he’s going to miss out on this Africa Cup of Nations.

2. Joel Matip (Cameroon)

Liverpool defender Joel Matip has had a good season at club level but will not showcase his defensive skills in Egypt as he continues his self-imposed exile from the national team. The UEFA Champions League winning defender’s problems with Cameroon stem from a breakdown in communication with the previous coaching staff. Matip represented Cameroon at the Fifa World Cup in 2010 and 2014 but has never featured for the Central African nation in the greatest showpiece on the African continent having also rejected a call-up in 2010. Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf recently said the door is still open for Matip but will not beg him to return.

3. Emmannuel Adebayor (Togo)

Veteran Togo striker Adebayor will also play no part in the continental showpiece after his country failed to secure a ticket in the final qualifying matches in March. In the do-or-die match, Benin beat Togo 2-1 to finish as runners-up to Algeria and secure their place after Huddersfield striker Steve Mounie scored the winning goal in Cotonou. It was a disappointing end to Adebayor and Togo’s campaign as Mounie struck seven minutes from time to give Benin the win.

4. Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

The Manchester United defender suffered a knee injury against Chelsea in April’s crucial English Premier League match, ending his season and his hopes of featuring in the Afcon for Ivory Coast. Bailly sustained medial ligament damage in a collision with Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic in the second half of the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Ivory Coast are drawn in a Group, featuring Morocco, South Africa and Namibia.

5. Gervinho (Ivory Coast)

A 32-year-old veteran of five Cup of Nations, winger Gervinho was hopeful his impressive Serie A form with Parma would earn him a call-up. The dreadlocked former Arsenal and Roma star, real name Gervais Yao Kouassi, scored 11 goals and was credited with four assists in 30 Italian league matches last season, However, that was still not enough to convince Ivory Coast coach Ibrahim Kamara to call him up as he preferred Nicolas Pepe, runner-up to French star Kylian Mbappe in the 2018/2019 Ligue 1 Golden Boot race, Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha and clubless Wilfried Bony.

6. Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)

The ditching of forward Iheanacho came after Germany-born Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr questioned the attitude of the Leicester City forward. “I think he needs to be more professional. We were not satisfied with his recent performances for the national team,” said Rohr. Once hailed as a star in the making by then club manager, Pep Guardiola, at Manchester City, Iheanacho has faded dramatically after a bright start to his international career. After netting seven times in his first 11 appearances for the Super Eagles, his last goal for the national team came 19 months ago and he will be watching from home like the rest of us.

7. Aristide Bance (Burkina Faso)

The blond-haired striker has been one of the star attractions of the last three Afcons. He helped The Stallions reach the 2013 final, including converting his spot kick as they beat Ghana on penalties in the semi-finals. They went on to lose to Nigeria in the final to end the tournament as runners-up, their best ever finish in the history of the Nations Cup and also beat Ghana 1-0 to finish third in the 2017 edition. However, Bance will be missing in the 2019 showpiece as Burkina Faso failed to qualify, having finished third in Group I.

8. Geoffrey Kondogbia (Central Africa Republic)

Central Africa Republic ran Ivory Coast close to the second spot in the race for Group H, but eventually fell in the fourth round of the qualifiers after they were held to a 2-2 all draw by Rwanda, meaning the Nemorous-born midfielder missed out on making his first appearance in the finals. The French0-born Valencia midfield powerhouse received an official call on August 13, 2018 and made his debut on October 12 by starting and acting as captain in a 4-0 away loss to the Ivorians in the qualifiers.

9. Faouzi Ghoulam (Algeria)

Napoli defender Faouzi Ghoulam is notably absentee from the star-studded Desert Foxes team  set to do battle in Group C alongside Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal. The exclusion of Ghoulam is a consequence of the defender’s injury problems of late, and the left-back has ultimately failed to prove his fitness in time for the competition. The North Africans were knocked out in the group stage two years ago in Gabon, and will strive to secure better results in Egypt but without Ghoulam.

10. Herve Koffi (Burkina Faso)

The Lille custodian is arguably the best goalkeeper set to miss the tournament in Egypt. The 22-year-old keeper conceded only five goals for Burkina Faso in their six qualifying matches, but a lack of goals for the side upfront saw them crash out of the competition after coming third in Group I of the qualifiers. Koffi was one of the standout players in the 2017 Afcon and has followed it up with an impressive season with Lille, finishing season in Ligue 1 behind champions PSG. Big miss.

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