The 2022 Africa Cup of Nations is underway, and many Premier League players figure to assume starring roles at the 33rd edition of the African championship for national teams.
The 31 EPL players in the competition are facing a minimum of three group stage matches, meaning they will remain on national team duty until at least January 20. The group stage will see eight teams eliminated and after a short break the competition will then proceed to the single-game knockout phase beginning with the Round of 16.
In addition to seeing how far their favorite players can advance, Premier League fans will also be keeping an eye on the timing of their potential return. Should a national team reach the AFCON final, those players will remain in Cameroon through Feb. 6.
AFCON 2022 key tournament dates
Here's the way the AFCON tournament schedule breaks down:
- Group Stage: Sun, Jan. 9 – Thurs, Jan. 20
- Round of 16: Sun, Jan. 23 – Wed, Jan. 26
- Quarterfinals: Sat, Jan. 29 – Sun Jan. 30
- Semifinals: Wed, Feb. 2 – Thurs, Feb. 3
- Final & 3rd Place Match: Sun, Feb. 6
When will Premier League players return to clubs?
The Premier League players at AFCON 2022 will aim to go as deep as possible in the tournament. Here is a full list of each Premier League club's players at the tournament, how they're faring and when they might be due back with their club.
Ghana lost a heartbreaker to Morocco on a late goal and Thomas Partey went 90 minutes before a late sub. The Black Stars will like their chances of bouncing back against Comoros and Gabon coming up.
The other Arsenal players will be in action in the coming days, though Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sat out Gabon's opening win due to a positive COVID-19 test.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon – Group C)
- Mohamed Elneny (Egypt – Group D)
- Thomas Partey (Ghana – Group C)
- Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast – Group E)
Bertrand Traore captained Burkina Faso against host nation Cameroon and despite a 2-1 loss, the team acquitted itself well enough to give its fans hope of making it out of the group.
Trezeguet could see action for Egypt against Nigeria in their Group D opener. A knee injury kept Marvelous Nakamba from joining Zimbabwe at the event.
- Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso – Group A)
- Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt – Group D
Frank Onyeka gets his AFCON tournament started on Tuesday with Nigeria.
Julian Jeanvier did not make Guinea's final AFCON squad, and Tarique Fosu-Henry also missed out on Ghana's squad after not making a single Premier League appearance this season.
- Frank Onyeka (Nigeria – Group D)
Mali will be one of the last teams to take the field when it faces Tunisia on Wednesday.
- Yves Bissouma (Mali – Group F)
It remains to be seen if Maxwel Cornet will be able to break into the lineup on a star-studded Ivory Coast side when the Elephants start their tournament on Wednesday.
- Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast – Group E)
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was one of the players who was forced to sit out due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Regular Morocco call-up Hakim Ziyech was left out of the squad to a rift with the manager and his nation still beat a strong Ghana team without him.
- Edouard Mendy (Senegal – Group B)
Jordan Ayew started at forward for Ghana and went 86 minutes in the 1-0 loss to Morocco. Ghana left Ayew's Crystal Palace teammate, Jeffrey Schlupp, off the team.
Cheikhou Kouyate went the full 90 in his familiar central midfield position as Senegal emerged victorious to start its AFCON 2022 campaign. Wilfried Zaha and the Ivory Coast play Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.
- Jordan Ayew (Ghana – Group C)
- Chiekhou Kouyate (Senegal – Group B)
- Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast – Group E)
Alex Iwobi and Nigeria open with a tough contest against Mohamed Salah and Egypt (Tuesday).
Jean-Phillippe Gbamin, who has just three Premier League appearances this season for the Toffees and reportedly has been asked to find a new club, was left off the Ivory Coast squad.
- Alex Iwobi (Nigeria – Group D)
Daniel Amartey, who's had a strong run of former with Leicester, went the full 90 at center back for Ghana in the defeat to Morocco. He figures to play a major role on this team during the competition.
Nampalys Mendy was caught up in the COVID-19 outbreak that affected Senegal ahead of its opener. Meanwhile, Nigeria will play its first match on Tuesday.
- Daniel Amartey (Ghana – Group C)
- Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria – Group D)
- Nampalys Mendy (Senegal – Group B)
- Wilfried Ndidi (Nigeria – Group D)
Sadio Mane has already been decisive for tournament favorite Senegal, bagging the winning penalty deep in stoppage time in a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe. And Naby Keita went the full 90 for Guinea in its 1-0 opener over Malawi.
His teammate, Mohamed Salah, will have his hands full with Egypt against Nigeria on Tuesday.
- Naby Keita (Guinea – Group B)
- Sadio Mane (Senegal – Group B)
- Mohamed Salah (Egypt – Group D)
Riyad Mahrez and Algeria take the field for the first time on Tuesday, looking to extend their 34-match unbeaten streak.
- Riyad Mahrez (Algeria – Group E)
Ivory Coast is the last team to make its AFCON 2022 debut in a match against Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday. Man United's Eric Bailly is on the team, but Amad Diallo is not.
- Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast – Group E)
Mali and Moussa Djenepo kick off their participation in AFCON 2022 on Wednesday.
Mohammed Salisu did not join Ghana, and his compatriots were not happy.
- Moussa Djenepo (Mali – Group F)
Morocco began its AFCON 2022 participation with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Ghana. Adam Masina played all 90 minutes at left back and club teammate Imran Louza started and went 78 minutes in midfield.
Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye and defender William Troost-Ekong will look to help Nigeria get off to a strong start against Egypt and Mohamed Salah.
Peter Etebo won't be with Nigeria due to injury, while Ismaila Sarr was not released to Senegal after a contentious club vs. country tussle.
- Imran Louza (Morocco – Group C)
- Adam Masina (Morocco – Group C)
- Maduka Okoye (Nigeria – Group D)
- William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria – Group D)
Coming off a strong first half of the season with West Ham, Said Benrahma will be hoping his form carries over into AFCON with Algeria, beginning with the opener against Sierra Leone.
- Said Benrahma (Algeria – Group E)
Romain Saiss captained Morocco to its 1-0 win over Ghana. Fellow Wolves defender Willy Boly hopes to replicate the result with Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
- Willy Boly (Ivory Coast – Group E)
- Romain Saiss (Morocco – Group C)