THE 2021 Africa Cup of Nations has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, in a short-term boost to certain Premier League clubs.
A number of players, including the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and Nicolas Pepe would have been among those likely to head to the tournament with their respective nations.
And with it having been scheduled to take place in January and February of 2021, they would have missed a busy period of the English domestic campaign.
But the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have confirmed that the tournament, initially pencilled in to take place in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6 of next year, will be pushed back and played in 2022 instead.
With qualifying having not yet finished, and the logistical nightmare of travelling between countries during the pandemic, CAF have decided to go early on the postponement.
Clashing with the European domestic season has often been a difficulty for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, and last year’s edition in Egypt experimented with a summer event instead.
The African Cup of Nations going back to January is, for us, a catastrophe.
But with the concerns over climate and feasibility, the competition was moved back to its usual January-February slot in the calendar and that is not expected to change.
Jurgen Klopp last year described the decision to switch the tournament’s position in the calendar back as a “catastrophe”.
He said: “The African Cup of Nations going back to January is, for us, a catastrophe.
“We will not sell Sadio, Mo or Naby (Keita) now because they have a tournament in January and February – of course not.
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“But if you have to make a decision about bringing in a player, it is a massive one because before the season you know for four weeks you don’t have them.
“That’s a normal process and as a club you have to think about these things.”
The move now means that African stars will have to play in two major tournaments in one year, with 2022 being rounded off by the winter World Cup in Qatar – scheduled to begin on November 21.