What does AFCON 2021 really mean for Liverpool? The Reds have some African stars who will compete at the tournament.
It’s difficult to know for sure when the next Africa Cup of Nations will happen. It’s already been moved more than once, after all.
But for now, it’s scheduled for January 9th through February 6th 2022. In other words, right in the middle of the season.
That, on the face of it, creates a problem for Liverpool. They have three first-team players who will compete at the tournament, two of which are incredibly important.
Mohamed Salah will star for Egypt, Sadio Mane will lead Senegal and Naby Keita is the main man for Guinea. So what exactly does AFCON 2021 mean for Liverpool?
Liverpool and AFCON 2021
As things stand, Liverpool have two Premier League games while AFCON 2021 happens. There will be an FA Cup Third Round game in there, though, and potentially a Fourth Round, too.
But Liverpool aren’t that affected thanks to the ‘winter break’ in the fixtures. The end of January will see the Reds have a little breather.
Now, the FA Cup would be nice to win but it’s not a priority. It’s very possible that none of the absent trio would play in those games anyway, depending on the opponents.
They will be a miss for the Premier League games but we’d back Liverpool to get through two. They’re against Brentford and Crystal Palace – both very winnable games.
The real problem here is exhaustion, however. Everyone in the squad will get that all-important winter break but the African trio won’t. They’ll be training and playing high-intensity games, potentially for the whole tournament.
That might have an effect down the line. Salah, Mane and Keita may all need rest at some point in order to catch up with the others.
Liverpool can likely pepper that in throughout the resulting months, however.
So overall, AFCON 2021 doesn’t cripple Liverpool. The Reds should be able to handle it – as long as they manage the returning trio carefully.