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Afcon 2023: Senegal and Sadio Mane set for defence of title

SENEGAL have called up six Premier League players alongside Sadio Mane for the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) title in Ivory Coast next month.

Nottingham Forest pair Moussa Niakhate and Cheikhou Kouyate, Fulham defender Fode Ballo-Toure, Tottenham midfielder Pape Matar Sarr, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye and Chelsea striker Nicolas Jackson have all been included by Teranga Lions coach Aliou Cisse.

Middlesbrough goalkeeper Seny Dieng and Rangers forward Abdallah Sima are also in the 27-man squad.

The 2023 Afcon finals – officially branded as such even though they are being played in 2024 – begin on January 13, with the final on February 11.

Former Liverpool forward Mane, who now plays in Saudi Arabia for Al Nassr, scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out against Egypt in the 2021 Nations Cup final to clinch Senegal’s first senior continental trophy.

The 24 competing countries have until January 3 to name their final squads.

Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana was named in Cameroon’s squad but Indomitable Lions coach Rigobert Song surprisingly omitted striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting after the Bayern man missed their past three outings.

“Choupo-Moting is a very good player. But my staff and I want the continuity of recent times,” Song said.

Meanwhile, Onana’s United team-mate Hannibal Mejbri asked to be left out by Tunisia, with coach Jalel Kadri saying the 20-year-old midfielder “is going through an important situation at his club”.

Hosts Ivory Coast included Brighton’s Simon Adingra, yet Seagulls boss Roberto de Zerbi says the winger will be out for at least four weeks with a hamstring injury.

Former Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, now at Turkish giants Galatasaray, was not included by Elephants coach Jean-Louis Gasset.

And Burnley striker Lyle Foster was not called up by South Africa, having only recently returned from a leave of absence because of a mental health issue.

Several players will miss the tournament because of injury, including Brentford forward Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon), Crystal Palace midfielder Cheick Doucoure (Mali) and Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria). – BBC.


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