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With only 16 days left to the start of the African Cup of Nations, the competition has become a major topic of discussion over player availability, following the clamour by European clubs that the tournament be shifted or outrightly cancelled.

There had been rumours that the already-delayed Africa Cup of Nations might be shifted for a second time because of the Covid-19 pandemic and concern over the Omicron variant. However, CAF president Patrice Motsepe assured this week that it will proceed as planned. Patrick Vieira believes the tournament should not be seen as an interference but as a vital competition for Africa.

Patrick Viera believes everyone must understand the importance of the competition and that he would never stop a player from participating in the tournament.
“I respect and I understand the passion and importance of those players to go and represent their country,” he said. “I will never stop any players going to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Speaking further, he said,
“I believe that the competition has to be more respected because this competition is as important as the European championship.
“With Senegal, I don’t think people understand [Sadio] Mane or Cheikhou Kouyate not representing their nation. If there was more coverage people will understand how important it is for the African continent.”

Liverpool will be without the trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, and Arsenal’s Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe are among those set to take part at the afcon. Leicester city will be without Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho. Palace players Wilfried Zaha, Jeffrey Schlupp, Cheikhou Kouyate and Jordan Ayew are also all set to play at AFCON.

EPL clubs may delay releasing players for the tournament until as late as January 3 with only six days left to the commencement of the tournament in Cameroon.

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