Every two years, some of the world’s biggest football stars compete in the Africa Cup of Nations. However, due to injuries, indiscipline, or conflicts with European club schedules, several stars often do miss the tournament. AFKSports has compiled a list of 12 familiar faces we might just miss at the AFCON 2015 in Equatorial Guinea this coming January.
Nabil Ghilas (Algeria)
Last year, Nabil Ghilas struggled for gametime at Porto, so he opted for a loan move to Cordoba in the summer. The Andalusian club afforded him a level of trust he never found in Porto, and he has responded favourably, scoring more than a third of Cordoba’s goals to date. Ghilas, however, he will not represent Algeria in Equatorial Guinea despite his good form. An act of indiscipline, after he learned of coach Christian Gourcuff’s decision to not play him against Mali has ruled him out of contention.
Alex Song (Cameroon)
Speaking to state television in October, Volker Finke claimed that the Cameroonian outfit that played in the 2014 World Cup was not ‘his team’. After the tournament Alex Song was one of the first victims of Volker Finke’s personnel turnover. The German caretaker entrusted lesser known names like Georges Mandjeck or Eyong Enoh in defensive midfield and Cameroon seem a more unified side for it. Song has, however, shown glimpses of magic at West Ham United and insider speculation hints at a surprise recall.
Anis Ben Hatira (Tunisia)
Ben Hatira’s exclusion isn’t due to a bout of indiscipline, or injury. This season, the Hertha Berlin midfielder has managed a respectable 3 goals and 4 assists. Ben Hatira is rather a victim to the form of his Tunisian teammates. Yassine Chikhaoui, Youssef Msakni, and Wahbi Khazri have been in magnificent form, and Ben Hatira hasn’t been able to squeeze his way in the Carthage Eagles set-up thus far.
Brice Dja Djedje (Cote D’Ivoire)
While other players in this list have been excluded for a medley of reasons, Brice Dja Djedje has denied himself the opportunity of playing the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. The Marseille fullback told French press that he wanted to stay in France as he is enjoying his first season playing with a ‘big club’. In any case, Dja Djedje was never likely to play much in Equatorial Guinea as Serge Aurier had claimed the right flank for his own under Herve Renard.
Dieumerci Mbokani (DR Congo)
Dieumerci Mbokani was a name that reverberated the wider footballing world the last time an Africa Cup of Nations was held. After a prolific spell at Anderlecht, Mbokani became an integral cog in Claude LeRoy’s attack, but his history of petulance in the international arena has damaged his reputation in the DR Congo. Mbokani has refused a handful of call-ups and, in 2011, even walked out on coach Robert Nouazet after learning that he wouldn’t start a match in 2011. Florent Ibenge has declared that the doors of the national team are open to everyone, Mbokani included, but striking slots are limited for the Leopards who boast one of Africa’s most dynamic attacks.
Tresor Mputu (DR Congo)
At one point in his career TP Mazembe captain Tresor Mputu was the best player in Africa, winning the 2009 Glo-CAF Best African Player on the continent award. Mputu is equally impressive with the Leopards, notching 14 goals in 37 matches. However, the last several years have been tough on the man once dubbed ‘the new Eto’o’. He has been suspended on allegations of match-fixing and has suffered a spell of crippling injuries. The odds are, therefore, stacked against Mputu who must hit top form in the few weeks separating us from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Demba Ba (Senegal)
In the international arena, Demba Ba remains an anomaly. At all of his recent clubs, Ba has managed respectable, if not spectacular, scoring record. But his goalscoring record in the international arena is but a shadow of his proven capabilities. Observers point to Ba’s rocky relationship with coach Alain Giresse as the reason for his toothless performances, and the local press believe he will miss out on the Africa Cup of Nations as Giresse boasts an embarrassment of riches at the striker position.
Sulley Muntari (Ghana)
A temper tantrum at the World Cup, during which Sulley Muntari slapped Ghana FA executive committee member Moses Armah twice, saw Sulley Muntari understandably banned from the Ghanaian national team. However, the arrival of new coach Avram Grant has provided him a new opportunity as the former Chelsea coach recently stated that no one player is on a black list. Muntari’s involvement still seems dubious at best.
Michael Essien (Ghana)
Ten years ago, Michael Essien was the biggest name on the continent. Today’s 32 year-old Essien has lost a yard of pace and is not as convincing in duels, though his on-pitch leadership has often swung the anvil in Ghana’s favour. Yet there’s no denying that compatriot Mohamed Rabiu is the more active and influential central midfielder. Essien, who now plies his trade in Milan, has not participated in Ghana’s qualification campaign.
Kwadwo Asamoah (Ghana)
Kwadwo Asamoah is probably Ghana’s best player. ‘Kojo’ had seemingly moved past the peripheral role he played for Juventus and Ghana on the wing, as he grew in stature and influence in the middle of the park. Unfortunatley for the Black Stars and their new manager Avram Grant, knee surgery has ruled Asamoah out of participation for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Tokelo Rantie (South Africa)
After dislocating his shoulder with Championship club Bournemouth, Tokelo Rantie is doubtful to feature in Equatorial Guinea. The former Orlando Pirates striker has been Bafana Bafana’s star man during qualifiers and Shakes Mashaba will sorely miss his dynamic presence in attack, if not rehabilitated in time.
Aurelien Chedjou (Cameroon)
Like Alex Song and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Aurelien Chedjou is a victim of Volker Finke’s wholesale makeover. Stephane M’Bia was made captain and shifted back to centre-half, in lieu of Chedjou who has now lost his place in the Cameroonian line-up. Joel Matip and Jerome Guihoata are two other centre-halves Finke seems to prefer to Chedjou who has amassed more than 30 caps for Cameroon.