AFCON 2023: Some major injured players race against the clock – At a glance

With just a few weeks to go before the 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (January 13 – February 11, 2024) kicks off, several players are currently injured, putting their participation in Côte d’Ivoire in doubt. Will they be ready in time?

Many doubts in the Lions’ ranks

Senegal are preparing to put their title on the line once again, with the aim of retaining their status as African champions in Côte d’Ivoire. To achieve this, Lions coach Aliou Cissé is hoping to count on all his key players. While the list of players selected for the AFCON 2023 is expected this Friday, December 29, some players are already uncertain. Several of Aliou Cissé’s men are in the infirmary. Youssouf Sabaly went off injured in the 62nd minute against Algeria in a friendly last September. The PSG-trained right-back recovered and returned to action in November, and was on the scoresheet for Real Bétis’ 2-0 win over Mallorca. But a few days later in training, Sabaly re-injured himself with a grade 2 sprain of the right knee’s medial collateral ligament.Since then, no more games. An important member of the Lions’ rearguard, his return is eagerly awaited by the Lions’ technical staff, with a crying shortage of players in the right-back position.

Aliou Cissé has also lost other players in recent days. While Seyni Dieng, number 3 in the goalkeeping hierarchy, is also injured, Senegal fans are worried about the condition of Boulaye Dia. The Senegalese striker is suffering from a muscle ache which forced him to leave the pitch in the 48th minute of Salernitana – AC Milan. A key member of the African champions’ attack, his injury looks serious and could upset all Cissé’s plans if he has to withdraw from the AFCON 2023. Not at all. Physical problems are like a virus that has infected the whole squad. Nampalys Mendy and Idrissa Gana Guèye are also seeing the doctor. The midfielder with 106 caps for France felt some pain that forced him to leave his team-mates against Tottenham. As for Nampalys Mendy, who was injured against Sevilla on the 6th and last day of the Champions League two weeks ago, the RC Lens player is currently undergoing training with a physiotherapist to be ready for the AFCON 2023.

Sulemana out of action?

Ghana could lose an attacking element for good at this year’s African Cup of Nations. If Southampton coach Russel Martin is to be believed, Kamaldeen Sulemana may not make it to the competition. Suffering from a hamstring problem, the Black Stars winger is not expected to recover until the end of January or early February at the latest. He could join Tariq Lamptey on the list of players missing from the tournament in Côte d’Ivoire. The right-back has been plagued by injuries and has not played since the match against OM, when he went off injured on November 25.

Naby Keïta less fit?

Will the captain of the Syli National be at the AFCON 2023? Doubt exists. Naby Keïta is struggling to make a comeback due to his physical fragility. With only 3 games played this season for Werder Bremen, the Guinean midfielder is not sure he will take part in this campaign in the eyes of the German club’s coach.“We’re pleased to have Naby Keita back in the team, but he probably won’t be a priority option for a while. We now need to gradually get him back into shape and gradually give him more playing time. It’s more likely that we won’t see the full Naby Keita until after the African Cup next year,” says Ole Werner. It remains to be seen whether Kaba Diawara will take the risk of bringing Naby Keïta to Côte d’Ivoire.

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