When Premier League players are heading to AFCON and how you can watch them

For some Premier League teams, the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) is a bit of a nightmare for their squads.

Football clubs will lose players hailing from the continent as they participate in the celebrated and coveted AFCON tournament that seeks to crown the best African footballing nation every two years.

The tournament will take place in Cameroon, across six venues in five host cities, as defending champions Algeria look to keep a tight grip on their crown.

Some of the world's top players will feature in the tournament and Premier League clubs have done their best in some cases to delay the departure of their stars like Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

So how long does the tournament last and when will the Premier League players be available to play for their clubs once again?

When do Premier League Players leave for AFCON and when will they return?

The tournament starts on Sunday, January 9, 2022, and lasts until February 6, 2022. Fortunately, players will be able to stay at their clubs until January 3, 2022, which was pushed back from Friday, December 31, 2021.

This tournament was originally scheduled to take place alongside Euro 2020 and Copa America this past summer, from June to July, 2021.

AFCON was then moved to January 2021, but was postponed once again to do the Covid pandemic.

When players will return all depends on how far their respective countries progress in the tournament.

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The group stage schedule means that the last Premier League players will play at least three games on the last day, which is on January 20 and features Mali's Yves Bissouma of Brighton and Moussa Djenepo of Southampton.

Depending on how teams do, no Premier League player will be available until this date.

Round of 16 ties are scheduled for January 23 to 26, the quarter-finals across January 29 to 30, with the semi-finals set to take place on from February 2 to 3.

The lucky finalists will face off on the same day as the third-place play-off on February 6, 2022.

When does AFCON 2021 start?

The AFCON tournament will kick off in a crunch Group A clash between hosts Cameroon and challengers Burkina Faso on January 9, 2022.

The list of every Premier League player called up for AFCON


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Mohamed El Neny (Egypt)

Thomas Partey (Ghana)

Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)

Aston Villa

Bertarand Traore (Burkina Faso)

Trézéguet (Egypt)


Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)


Yves Bissouma (Mali)

Ulrick Eneme Ella (Gabon).


Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)


Edouard Mendy (Senegal)

Crystal Palace

Jordan Ayew (Ghana)

Cheikhou Kouyaté (Senegal)

Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

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Alex Iwobi (Ivory Coast)

Leicester City

Daniel Amartey (Ghana)

Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)


Naby Keita (Guinea)

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Manchester United

Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)


Moussa Djenepo (Mali)


Adam Masina, Imran Louza (Morocco)

Ismaïla Sarr (Senegal)

Emmanuel Dennis, William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)

West Ham

Saïd Benrahma (Algeria)


Romain Saïss (Morocco)

Willy Boly (Ivory Coast)

How to watch AFCON 2021 in the UK

The AFCON tournament will be available to watch for Sky Sports viewers in the UK.

All 52 games of the tournament's 33rd edition will be shown by the TV company. A day membership for sports channels can be bought from NOW TV for £9.99, or a monthly membership is currently on offer for £25.

Sky Sports Director of Football, Gary Hughes said: "This is excellent news for football fans, who love to watch the best players in the world including Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez."

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"We're delighted to be adding this fantastic competition to our ever-expanding football."

Confederation of African Football (CAF) general secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba said: "It is important for CAF to ensure that the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, being the single-biggest sporting event on African soil, and prime content, is accessible all over the world."

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