AFCON moved to 2024, Premier League clubs set to be affected again

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By Martin Graham | 4th Jul 2022

CAF have once again rescheduled the Africa Cup of Nations. The biennial tournament set to hold in July 2023 has now been moved to January/February 2024.

The Africa Cup of Nations is perhaps one of the most debated football competition ever witnessed. CAF has always been at loggerheads with Europe over the timing of the competition, with the football governing body appearing confused at times.

There has been debate over the timing of the competition, with Europe wanting the tournament to coincide with its summer, which CAF has argued falls into the period the continent enjoys its heaviest rains. CAF has always stuck to its guns of organizing the competition between January and February. The downside to that is that it falls smack in the middle of the European season.

The debate is about to start again, with CAF making another change to the next competition. The next Africa Cup of Nations was scheduled for July 2023 but shifted to 2024. The AFCON will now hold between January and February like the last tournament. The change would raise conflicts with national associations and European clubs over the release of players.

CAF switches dates of AFCON once again

In 2017, CAF announced that it would change its calendar. CAF wanted to mitigate against the disputes that emerge as the competition approaches.

European clubs have always been displeased at releasing their players mid-season, but with the recent change, national associations and clubs are once more set to collide.

The next Africa Cup of Nations was set for July next year, but weather concerns on the Ivory Coast have caused a change to the dates. The tournament will now take place in January/February of 2024. The date change means many Premier League players could miss a sizable portion of the season.

Speaking in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, CAF president Patrice Motsepe said the confederation could not take the risk. He said the executive boards agreed to postpone the tournament until 2024.

European clubs to be affected

Several Premier League clubs are already bristling at the change of dates of the Africa Cup of Nations. Last season, the tournament took place in January/February. Several Premier League sides were affected, with Liverpool and Arsenal the worst hit.

 Liverpool lost Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, with both players playing in the final. Both players missed only two matches in the end. Arsenal lost Thomas Partey (Ghana) and Mohamed Elneny (Egypt). Partey missed just one game as he was back for the tie against Burnley following Ghana’s ouster in the group stage.

Chelsea lost Hakim Ziyech (Morocco) and Edouard Mendy (Senegal)

Manchester United were not left out of the party as Eric Bailly was also away at the AFCON representing Ivory Coast. Wilfred Zaha and Nicolas Pepe were also a part of the Ivory Coast squad to the AFCON. Riyad Mahrez was also at the tournament but was back early as Algeria crashed in the group stage.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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