The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced yesterday that footballers who go to the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations next month will be allowed to play for their clubs until January 3rd.
Many have had to miss games because clubs require players to be released 14 days before a continental championship or the world championship.
However, CAF has agreed to allow players whose clubs will play matches between December 27 and January 3 before joining their national teams for the Cup of Nations finals, which kicks off in Cameroon on January 9.
This will be a relief for English clubs who were set to lose their African players by the official release date on December 27th, although some had made individual arrangements to allow players to stay with them as long as possible before the tournament started.
“This decision is made in a spirit of goodwill and solidarity with the clubs affected, as they, like all members of the football community, have been affected by the outbreak of the Covid pandemic,” said a FIFA letter on Sunday for the World Leagues Forum and the European Leagues grouping.
Both organizations criticize the timing of the Nations Cup in the middle of the club season in Europe, where the majority of the players involved in the tournament play their club football. However, FIFA said that CAF had decided to offer relief to the clubs.
“It is also understood that there is a spirit of mutual collaboration between CAF and all relevant stakeholders in this regard, including the release of players and the provision of sporting exemptions from travel and quarantine restrictions if required in the future,” added the letter from FIFA Deputy General Secretary Mattias Grafstrom.
The timing of the Cup of Nations finals has long been a bone of contention for club managers, and future tournaments are slated for mid-year.
Guinea suffers two withdrawals
Guinean defenders Antoine Conte and Florentin Pogba were eliminated from the squad for the finals of the Africa Cup yesterday because of injuries.
Conte, a former France under-21 international who has switched loyalty, said he has not yet recovered from his injury following his recent move to Romanian club Universitatea Craiova.
Pogba suffered both a knee injury and a torn tendon at French club Sochaux earlier this month. A scan confirmed that he would be out at least until the end of January, said the Guinean Football Association.
Pogba, 30, is the older brother of French world champion Paul Pogba.
Coach Kaba Diawara has appointed two home players as replacements: Fode Camara from Horoya and Gaoussou Yousouf Siby from Wakrya
Goalkeepers: Moussa Camara (Horoya), Aly Keita (Ostersund), Ibrahima Kone (Hibernians)
Defenders: Fode Camara (Horoya), Mohamed Ali Camara (Young Boys), Ibrahima Conte (Niort), Mikael Dyrestam (Sarpsborg), Ousmane Kante (Paris FC), Pa Konate (Botev Plovdiv), Gaoussou Yousouf Siby (Wakrya), Saidou Sau (St. Etienne), Issiaga Sylla (Toulouse, France)
Midfielders: Aguibou Camara (Olympiakos), Ibrahima Cisse (Seraing), Ibrahima Sory Conte (Bnei Sakhnin), Amadou Diawara (Roma), Mamadou Kane (Neftci), Naby Keita (Liverpool), Mory Konate (St. Truiden), Ilaix Moriba (RB Leipzig), Morlaye Sylla (Horoya)
Forwards: Mohamed Bayo (Clermont), Mamadou Diallo (Grenoble), Morgan Guilavogui (Paris FC), Sory Kaba (OH Leuven), Jose Kante (Kairat), Seydouba Soumah (Kuwait SC).
Bissouma returns after a three-year stalemate for Mali
Brighton’s Yves Bissouma has agreed to play for Mali in the Africa Cup of Nations final in Cameroon next month. He was named to a 28-man squad for the tournament and ended a stalemate with manager Mohamed Magassouba.
Bissouma had previously accused Magassouba of making him look bad by repeatedly calling him to Mali’s squad despite recovering from shoulder surgery, leaving the impression that he no longer wanted to play for his homeland.
Goalkeepers: Djigui Diarra (young African), Ismael Diawara (Malmö), Ibrahima Mounkoro (TP Mazembe) Defenders: Senou Coulibaly (Dijon), Mamadou Fofana (Amiens), Massadio Haidara (racing lens), Boubacar Kiki Kouyate (Sacko), Falaye Vitoria Guimaraes), Issiaka Samake (Horoya), Moussa Sissako (Standard Liège), Charles Traore (Nantes), Hamari Traore (Stade Rennes)
Midfielders: Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion), Mohamed Camara (Salzburg), Lassana Coulibaly (Salernitana), Aliou Dieng (Al Ahly), Amadou Haidara (RB Leipzig), Romenigue Kouame (Troyes), Diadie Samassekou (Hoffenheim), Adama ‘Noss’ Traore (Hatayspor), Hamidou Traore (Giresunspor)
Forwards: Kalifa Coulibaly (Nantes), Moussa Doumbia (Stade Reims), Moussa Djenepo (Southampton), Ibrahima Kone (Sarpsborg), Lassine Sinayoko (AJ Auxerre), Adama “Malouda” Traore (Sheriff Tiraspol), El Bilal Toure (Stade Reims) .)).