AFCON: How Many Games Will Salah and Mane Miss?

salah

Africa Cup of Nations Premier League players: How many games will Salah and Mane miss?

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are seemingly back to their very best with Liverpool this season and they have put the club in a sensational position to reclaim their Premier League crown which they lost to Manchester City last campaign.

As of now, Salah is on course to get another Golden Boot and he is even chasing down his own record of 32 goals scored within a 38-game season - this is a feat he managed to do so in his debut season at Anfield.

Now, Salah and Mane will miss a chunk of Liverpool's season as they travel to the Africa Cup of Nations over in Cameroon where Riyad Mahrez and Said Benrahma will defend the title for Algeria. In total, should any of the Africa Cup of Nations Premier League players make it all the way, they could miss almost a fourth of the season.

How many games will Salah and Mane miss?

How many games Premier players will miss because of AFCON ultimately depends on just how far both teams will go. So, should Egypt and Senegal go all the way, Salah and Mane will miss potentially nine games at least, five of which will be Premier League games, the others being two FA Cup ties and the Champions League round of 16 first leg. All three of the latter games have yet to be announced but are penciled in for January and February.

Senegal are in a group containing Zimbabwe, Guinea, and Malawi, and considering the top two advance from the group with another place up for grabs for third-placed teams based on rankings, it would be an upset if Edouard Mendy, Mane and co. didn't make it through.

Egypt, while not boasting anywhere near the talent of nations like Algeria and Senegal across the pitch, are still expected to make it through to the knockout rounds from Group D. Salah and his colleagues will meet with Nigeria, Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau where Egypt should make it through in first or second.

Group games are set to be from January 9th up until January 20th, where if a nation doesn't make it through, they will head straight back to their clubs shortly after. Players will be able to get some time off after the AFCON, but this ultimately comes down to player and club deciding this amongst themselves, as there is no rule from FIFA that states they can't begin playing again straight away.

FIFA do, however, state “players must be released and start travel to their representative team no later than Monday morning the week preceding the week when the relevant final competition starts.”

So, how many games will Salah and Mane miss will depend on two things: how far they go and if they want to rejoin Liverpool straight away. Nevertheless, Premier League players will depart during the Boxing Day games at the latest and be in action in Cameroon until at least January 20th with the group games ending that day.

What games will Salah and Mane miss?

Liverpool will play hosts to Leeds United on Boxing Day and due to quarantine rules, all African players are expected to fly out on this day with the obvious fact that Christmas is the day earlier and they won't be catching any flights that day. So, expect the away trip to Tottenham Hotspur on December 19th to be Salah and Mane's last game for some time.

Liverpool then travel to Leicester City two days later before arguably the biggest game of the season as they make the trip to Chelsea on January 2nd. A much-needed break in Premier League season comes soon after, meaning Salah and Mane wouldn't miss that many more games in the league, but not be available for the FA Cup games expected to commence the weekend of January 8th.

They will still be in Cameroon for the game against Brentford (H) on the 15th with the group stages ending five days later on the 20th. The Reds then travel to Crystal Palace on January 22nd, where it's doubtful any African player will be playing as the players will be, at the very least, in transit or just landed back in England where quarantine rules may still apply.

The final game the likes of Naby Keita, Salah, and Mane will likely miss would be the home game against Leicester on February 9th as the final of AFCON is expected on February 6th, meaning they also miss the FA Cup fourth round during early February too, should Liverpool get through.

The AFCON knockout rounds will begin on January 23rd, so do not expect any African Premier League player to play in any game throughout January, unless things happen where they don't play much at the AFCON and/or return early due to being knocked out. Egypt and Senegal, however, are two of the favourites for the title and are expected in the knockout rounds.

When will Salah and Mane return from AFCON?

Salah and Mane are guaranteed to miss pretty much all of the games towards the end of December and all of games in January. This means Leeds (H), Leicester (A), Chelsea (A), an FA Cup fixture (to be determined), Brentford (H), Crystal Palace (A) will all not see Salah, Mane and most African players play at the very least.

This means the players can be expected back at their clubs for the away trip to Palace if they don't get through their groups and if quarantine rules are relaxed. Should Egypt and Senegal advance to the semi-finals, however, don't expect them to be playing in the Leicester (H) game as well, meaning they could miss both games with the Foxes.

If both Senegal and Egypt do get to the final, their earliest game back could be the Champions League knockout rounds which are expected on the 15th and 16th of February, meaning they also miss the away trip to Burnley a few days earlier.

If Mane and Salah can't make it to these two games either, the earliest Reds fans can expect them back is when they play hosts to Norwich City on February 19th.

Either way, if we were to make a prediction based on quarantine rules, the expectation of Egypt and Senegal at the AFCON, and rest period afterwards, both Salah and Mane will miss at least six games and it would be an almighty push to have them ready for Burnley (A) on February 12th, which would be their seventh game absent.

Africa Cup of Nations Premier League players: the Premier League players going to Africa Cup of Nations

Arsenal

Thomas Partey (Ghana)

Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)

Aston Villa

Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt)

Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)

Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe)

Brentford

Julian Jeanvier (Guinea)

Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)

Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana)

Brighton

Yves Bissouma (Mali)

Burnley

Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)

Chelsea

Edouard Mendy (Senegal)

Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)

Crystal Palace

Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)

Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana)

Jordan Ayew (Ghana)

Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

Everton

Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Ivory Coast)

Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)

Leeds United

None

Leicester City

Daniel Amartey (Ghana)

Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)

Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)

Liverpool

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Naby Keita (Guinea)

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Manchester United

Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast)

Newcastle United

None

Norwich City

None

Southampton

Moussa Djenepo (Mali)

Mohammed Salisu (Ghana)

Tottenham Hotspur

None

Watford

Peter Etebo (Nigeria)

William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)

Adam Masina (Morocco)

Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)

Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria)

West Ham United

Said Benrahma (Algeria)

Wolves

Romain Saiss (Morocco)

Willy Boly (Ivory Coast)

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