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Africa Cup of Nations

Feghouli among notable Africa Cup absentees

Johannesburg (AFP) – Midfielders Sofiane Feghouli of Algeria and Hakim Ziyech of Morocco and striker Basem Morsy of Egypt will be notable absentees from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon this month.

They all failed to find favour as national coaches put the final touches to plans for the tournament, which kicks off on January 14 with a Group A fixture between Gabon and debutants Guinea-Bissau in Libreville.

AFP Sport reports on the 16 contenders as the Ivory Coast prepare to defend a title they won in Equatorial Guinea two years ago by edging Ghana in a penalty shootout after a goalless final.



The host nation were first to name a final, 23-man squad, which will be captained by reigning African Footballer of the Year and prolific Borussia Dortmund scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.   

Burkina Faso

Veteran midfielder Charles Kabore skippers a country that has called up the Traore brothers — older Alain plays in Turkey and fellow midfielder Bertrand in the Netherlands for former European champions Ajax Amsterdam. 


Liverpool defender Joel Matip is among six players in the 35-man provisional squad who want to skip the Cup of Nations and concentrate on their club careers. Another inclusion, France-born Maxime Poundje, hopes to represent his country of birth rather than the homeland of his parents.    


Portugal-based striker Cicero Semedo will miss the tournament after undergoing surgery on a leg stress fracture. The 30-year-old scored the goal that gave the minnows a crucial qualifying victory in Kenya. 



Sofiane Feghouli of West Ham was a shock omission from a final squad that includes fellow winger Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City, the favourite to be named 2016 African Footballer of the Year Thursday in Abuja.


Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and Liverpool striker Sadio Mane form the ‘spine’ of a team seeking to bring the most prized African football trophy to Dakar for the first time.


Qatar-based midfielder Youssef Msakni staked a strong claim to be retained when coach Henryk Kasperczak names his final squad by scoring a hat-trick in a 3-3 warm-up draw against Catalonia in Spain.


Belgium-based Knowledge Musona and fellow attacker Khama Billiat, who plays for African champions Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa are among those carrying the hopes of a country aiming to reach the knockout stage for the first time. 


Democratic Republic of Congo

Coach Florent Ibenge has suffered blows with Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe putting club before country, a knee injury ruling out Everon winger Yannick Bolasie, and local stars idle because the government has postponed the start of the new season, fearing political tensions could spill into stadiums.

Ivory Coast

The defending champions have had mixed luck ahead of the title defence. An injury has sidelined veteran attacker Gervinho, but Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha opted for his country of birth after two friendly outings with England.


Midfielder Younes Belhanda from French league leaders Nice has conceded defeat in his bid to recover from a broken toe in time for the tournament after flying to the team camp in the United Arab Emirates for a second opinion. A surprise exclusion was Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Hakim Ziyech.  


Clubless former African Footballer of the Year Emmanuel Adebayor will captain a team he has often shunned in the past due to disputes with coaches and officials. 



Striker Basem Morsy, whose goals helped Zamalek reach the 2016 CAF Champions League final, was a notable absentee from a preliminary squad that includes 43-year-old goalkeeper and captain Essam El Hadary.


Ghana coach Avram Grant has omitted Kwadwo Asamoah after the experienced Juventus midfielder asked to be left out so he can fully recover from a serious knee injury.  


Spain-born Middlesbrough winger Adama Traore has turned down a chance to play for the country of his parents. Brothers Sambou and Moustapha Yatabare have been picked, as has Bakary Sako despite playing only 87 minutes for Crystal Palace this season. 


Goalkeeper Denis Onyango, one of three finalists for the 2016 Africa-based Footballer of the Year award at a ceremony in Abuja Thursday, is the star of a squad that includes Ugandans playing in Iceland, the United States, Lebanon and Vietnam.  

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