Nigerian trio of Wilfried Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho risk losing their place in Europe as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has moved the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tourney to January in Cameroon.
The tournament was due to hold in June and July but, due to weather conditions, the Cameroon Football Federation decided to stage it between January 9 and February 6.
“It (2021 Africa Cup of Nations) will be played in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2021. Date changed for weather reasons at Cameroon’s request,” the federation posted on Twitter after a meeting with representatives from the Confederation of African Football.
The move however will have major implications for Premier League clubs with Liverpool likely to be particularly badly affected with Iwobi, Ndidi, Iheanacho, Isaac Success and Leon Balogun all potentially unavailable to play for the club during that period.
Other African top stars that would be affected also includes Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Naby Keita (Guinea) would also be affected by the change in date of the competition.
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) and Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast) are also likely to feature in addition to Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
Meanwhile, Premier League clubs would require the services of these players as they are usually challenged by heavy schedule during the yuletide period and in January.
It can be recalled that the tournament always hold in January, mainly due to climate reasons and also to avoid conflict with other international tournaments or club competitions, but it was changed last year when Egypt hosted the first summer tournament.