There is starting to be a lot of talk about the African Cup of Nations, mainly due to the number of players a team may lose for the tournament. But we should talk about it more as one of the top football tournaments in the World. The tournament will be in January 2010, running from the 10th to the 31st. The Nations involved will likely call up their players before the 10th. So far there are 12 of the 16 spots taken with only four up for grabs. The qualified Nations are:
Angola (Host), Cameroon, Gabon, Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Benin, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso.
The 8 teams remaining are fighting for third place in their World Cup Qualifying groups and the final spot in Angola. Here are the teams that are battling it out:
One team from each pairing will advance (however in most cases they are not playing each other)
Togo - Morocco
Mozambique - Kenya
Zambia - Rwanda
Malawi - Guinea
Looking at the English Premier League I checked out the rosters from one of the twenty nations I have just mentioned. These are players that are eligible for the African Cup of Nations. Whether they will all be picked it is a matter for their national team boss. Players whose team have not yet qualified are marked with an *. I have also listed the matches that teams will play during the African Cup of Nations.
Fans of Birmingham, Blackburn, Manchester United, and West Ham can all relax because they don't have any players that will be heading to Angola in January.
Arsenal - Song and Eboue (v. Everton, @Bolton, @Aston Villa, v. Manchester United)
Aston Villa - Salifou* (@Wigan, v. West Ham, v. Arsenal, @Fulham)
Birmingham - NONE (v. Manchester United, @ Pompey, @ Chelsea, v. Spurs)
Blackburn - NONE (@ Manchester City, v. Fulham, v. Wigan, @ West Ham)
Bolton - Shittu (@Sunderland, v. Arsenal, v. Burnley, @Liverpool)
Burnley - Bikey (v. Stoke, @ Manchester United, @ Bolton, v. Chelsea)
Chelsea - Essien, Mikel, Kalou, Drogba (@Hull, v. Sunderland, v. Birmingham, @Burnley)
Everton - Yobo, Yakubu, Anichebe (@Arsenal, v. Manchester City, v. Sunderland, @Wigan)
Fulham - Paintsil, Etuhu (v.Pompey, @Blackburn, @Spurs, v. Aston Villa)
Hull - Ghilas, Cousin, Ekra, Olofinjana, Zayatte* (v. Chelsea, @Spurs, @United, v.Wolves)
Liverpool - El Zhar* (v.Spurs, @ Stoke, @Wolves, v. Bolton)
Man. City - Toure, Adebayor* (v. Blackburn, @Everton, @Stoke, v. Pompey)
Man. United - NONE (@Birmingham, v. Burnley, v. Hull, @ Arsenal)
Pompey - Dindane, Belhadj, Yebda, Kanu, Utaka (@Fulham,v. Birmingham, v.West Ham, @City)
Stoke - Sidibe (@Burnley, v. Liverpool, v. Man City, @ Sunderland)
Sunderland - Mensah (v. Bolton, @Chelsea, @Everton, v. Stoke)
Spurs - Assou-Ekotto, Bassong (@Liverpool, v. Hull, v. Fulham, @Birmingham)
West Ham - NONE (v. Wolves, @ Aston Villa, @ Pompey, v. Blackburn)
Wigan - Kingson, Bouaouzan (v. Aston Villa, @Wolves, @ Blackburn, v. Everton)
Wolves - Elokobi (@West Ham, v. Wigan, v. Liverpool, @ Hull)
So there are 34 players from the Premier League that may be participating in the African Cup of Nations. Hull and Pompey may lost five players while Chelsea will lose four big players. Fans of the Manchester club with money will be hopeful that Togo fail to qualify so they can hold on to Adebayor. While Spurs fans will be hoping that King, Dawson, and Woodgate are healthy as they will be without two of their back four.
It is important to remember that as teams are knocked out of the tournament their players can return to England. So not all of the players listed above will be out for the duration of the tournament.
Once the draw is made I will put a preview of the tournament.