Stars who won’t light up Gabon skyline
BY MONICA IHEAKAM
The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations gets under way in Gabon today with 368 players from 16 countries poised to showcase their talents in the continental showpiece.
Saturday Sun sports profiles some notable African stars that would be missing in action for their countries due to injuries and club engagements.
The Elephants of Ivory Coast as defending champions will miss the services of their former Captain, Yaya Toure who led them to the AFCON 2015 title in Equatorial Guinea.
The 33-year-old retired form national team last year to focus on his career with Manchester City.
Also missing in action for Ivory Coast is Veteran attacker Gervinho who underwent surgery on ruptured cruciate ligaments.
Afobe: Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe who put club before his country Democratic Republic of Congo. His compatriot from Everton, Yannick Bolasie, will not shine like a million stars in Gabon because of injury.
Boufal: Morocco excused Southampton and midfielder Sofiane Boufal from the Gabon tournament because of his knee injury . Boufal joins Younes Belhanda, Oussame Tannane and Nordin Amrabat who all had to miss out on the Atlas Lions’ campaign because of injuries.
Asamoah: Kwadwo Asamoah decided against playing for Ghana in Gabon due a long-term knee injury with Juventus. Adam Kwarasey is also missing in the Black Stars squad because of back problems.
Matip: Liverpool defender Joel Matip , outrightly dumped The Indomitable Lions for the Reds. Schalke striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting also choose to dodge the tournament in Gabon.
Their sentiments were also shared by six other players; Andre Onana (Ajax Amsterdam), Guy Roland Ndy Assembe (Nancy), Allan Nyom (West Bromwich Albion), Maxime Poundje (Girondins Bordeaux), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Olympique Marseille) and Ibrahim Amadou (Lille).
The Teranga Lions will be without Crystal Palace defender Pape Souare who is still recovering from a horrific car crash he suffered last year. Senegal will also be without injured West Ham striker Diafra Sakho.
Spain-born Middlesbrough winger Adama Traore turned down a chance to play for the country of his parents, Mali.
Semedo : 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 Guinea-Bissau a crucial qualifying victory in Kenya.
Morsy: Moroccan 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.
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.
Feghouli: Sofiane Feghouli of West Ham was a shock omission from Algeria’s final squad that includes fellow winger Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City, the reigning African Footballer of the Year.