AFCON is now just around the corner and the Premier League is set to lose a whole host of players to the competition across January and the first half of February.
A number of squads have so far been announced (BBC Sport), and while Egypt and Senegal have not yet published theirs they are expected to include the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
The early announcers have come forward though, and while it is not surprising for the most part, there is already one major shock on the cards.
Western African country Ivory Coast have announced Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Manchester United’s Eric Bailly in the squad, but there is no room for United’s Amad Diallo, who was injured at the start of the season and consequently failed to agree a loan move in order to get game time.
Zaha has made 21 appearances for the Elephants, while Pepe has earned 28 caps.
Wolves Willy Boly and former Spurs defender Serge Aurier have been called up in defence. While Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet, Fulham’s Jean Michael Seri, and Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe have also earned call ups in midfield and attack alongside the likes of AC Milan’s Frank Kessie and former West Ham United player Sebastien Haller.
Meanwhile, moving Northbound, Morocco have conjured up a huge shock by leaving out Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech.
While Ziyech has not been at his best this season, contributing to just seven goals in 18 appearances, it seems strange to leave out such a talented player given the relative quality in the rest of the squad.
Ziyech has appeared 40 times for Morocco, scoring 17 times.
While the Morocco squad undoubtedly houses some talented individuals, such as Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi and and Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri, the rest of the squad lacks the names a country such as Ivory Coast has.
The other notable names in the Morocco squad include Wolves defender Romain Saiss, former Southampton star Sofiane Boufal, and Watford duo Adam Masina and Imran Louza.
More squad announcements are expected to follow in the coming hours.
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