CAF president makes major AFCON decision that will impact Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham – Football.London

Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe has said that the Africa Cup of Nations will go ahead next month.

The tournament had been rescheduled from early 2021, with the original plan to be for the games to be played between January and February of this year, however due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was rescheduled by one year.

Any decision taken over the tournament would impact most Premier League sides, with the majority of squads containing at least one player who represents an African nation that are in the tournament.

Chelsea are set to lose Edouard Mendy (Senegal) and Hakim Ziyech (Morocco) for a number of games, depending on their side’s progression in the tournament.

As for Arsenal, they will be without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Thomas Partey (Ghana), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast) and Mohamed Elneny (Egypt). Partey has since been named in Ghana’s provisional 30-man squad for the tournament.

West Ham will also be without Said Benrahma (Algeria).

There are only four Premier League sides who won’t be impacted over a decision regarding the tournament, as they are without a player who represents a side in the competition.

Those teams are Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich and Leeds.

At the very least, the players who do travel for the tournament will miss the FA Cup third round, the Carabao Cup semi-finals and a round of Premier League fixtures in January if their side only play in the group stages. If a side progresses all the way to the final, they could miss more than a month of action.

Speaking on the decision to keep the competition going, president Motsepe said, via Sky Sports: “I’m going to be here on January 7 and I’m coming to watch football.

“I’m coming to watch on January 9 [the opening match between] Cameroon against Burkina Faso. I’ll also be around to see when the trophy is handed over.

“We must always identify problems and challenges, and not shy away from them. We must have the confidence and the belief that we can overcome them.

“Nobody will be allowed into the stadium without a (negative) PCR test. We will have to protect the fans that are there. Of course, there will be concerns about fake tests going around, but we are dealing with those issues.

“We have to have confidence and belief in ourselves as Africans. And we have to have confidence and belief that we can host a very successful Nations Cup in Cameroon.”

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