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2023 Africa Cup of Nations: The biggest names missing from the tournament

Ghana will have to do without Partey at AFCON
Ghana will have to do without Partey at AFCONAFP
The upcoming Africa Cup of Nations will feature some of the best players in the world, but for various reasons, not all of the continent's biggest names will be there.

Here are the African stars that won't be taking to the field in Ivory Coast.

Said Benrahma (Algeria)

West Ham's Said Benrahma is one of the most high-profile African players in the world these days, but won't be at the continent's showpiece competition. The winger has been left out of Algeria's squad after falling out with manager Djamel Belmadi in October. 

Amine Gouiri (Algeria) 

Gouiri would have been key for Algeria
Gouiri would have been key for AlgeriaReuters

Rennes forward Amine Gouiri was expected to be one of Algeria's key men at the tournament after switching allegiances from France at the start of this season, but that won't be the case with injury ruling the 23-year-old out. 

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Cameroon)

He may play for one of the biggest clubs in the world in the form of Bayern Munich, but Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been left out of Cameroon's squad nevertheless. "We all know he is an important player. However, one has to make choices," said manager Rigobert Song. 

Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon)

Mbeumo has been out since early December
Mbeumo has been out since early DecemberReuters

Premier League star Bryan Mbeumo undoubtedly would have been called up by Song if available, but in a major blow to his nation, the Brentford winger has yet to recover from an ankle injury that he picked up in December.

Fatawu Issahaku (Ghana)

19-year-old Issahaku Fatawu has impressed at Leicester on loan from Sporting CP, getting two goals and seven assists, and in a bid to secure a permanent move to the English club, he's opted against representing Ghana at AFCON.

Thomas Partey (Ghana)

A bigger blow for Ghana is the absence of Arsenal's Thomas Partey, who wasn't able to recover quickly enough from a thigh injury that he picked in October. "Thomas Partey for sure, and I say this not in a detrimental way to the squad that we have, but he is one of our most important players. This we know and, withstanding his injury, he certainly would be in the squad," said manager Chris Hughton. 

Tariq Lamptey (Ghana)

Partey isn't the only Premier League midfielder that Ghana will be without, with Brighton man Tariq Lamptey also yet to recover from an injury. The 23-year-old has been plagued by fitness issues this season, only playing eight matches. 

Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

Eric Baily endured a difficult first half of the season, barely playing at Besiktas, and even a move back to Villarreal at the start of 2024 wasn't enough for him to get a spot in Ivory Coast's squad.

Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

Wilfried Zaha has been an AFCON regular over the years, playing in it 11 times since 2017, but the 31-year-old won't add to that tally in 2024, being left out of Ivory Coast's squad this time around having seemingly not impressed enough since joining Galatasaray. 

Abdoulaye Doucoure (Mali)

Doucoure has chosen club over country
Doucoure has chosen club over countryReuters

Abdoulaye Doucoure has been playing some of his best football ever since Sean Dyche took over at Everton, and has opted to remain with the Toffees as they bid to avoid relegation rather than represent Mali at AFCON for the first time. 

Cheick Doucoure (Mali)

Disaster struck for Mali in November when Crystal Palace midfielder Cheick Doucoure suffered an ACL injury that ruled him out of AFCON and most likely the remainder of the season. 

Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

Nigeria initially included Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi in their final 25-man AFCON squad, but the 27-year-old soon afterwards pulled out of it after suffering an unspecified injury.

Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria)

Taiwo Awoniyi has emerged as one of the most exciting African strikers around in recent seasons, scoring double figures in both the Bundesliga and the Premier League in the past two, but Nigeria will have to do without him this month with the Nottingham Forest player having to undergo surgery for a groin injury in November.

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