Liverpool Midfielder Naby Keita Selected to Guinea's 23 Man Squad for 2021 AFCON

Liverpool Midfielder Naby Keita Selected to Guinea's 23 Man Squad for 2021 AFCON

Tshepiso Mametela
updated at April 12, 2023 at 7:50 PM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
  • AFCON 2021 is scheduled to go ahead despite rumours that players based in Europe may be stopped from participating
  • The ECA expressed concerns over Covid-19 guidelines that have so far not been met by tournament organisers
  • Regardless, Guinea have included Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita in their 27-man squad for the tournament
  • Keita is expected to be the first of three Liverpool players, including Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, to turn up for his country

With the 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) looking more and more likely to go ahead as scheduled next month, the various countries that will be participating have already started to finalise their squads.

Recent rumours have suggested that the European Clubs Association (ECA) may look to stop players from the Premier League and Ligue 1 from going to the tournament due to Covid-19 guidelines which have not been met by tournament organisers.

Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, Liverpool, Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, Premier League, Ligue 1, Europe, ECA, Guinea, Cameroon, Patrice Motsepe, Squad, Tournament
Naby Keita has been selected for Guinea's 2021 AFCON extended squad. Image: Rob Newell/ CameraSport
Source: Getty Images

Not only have concerns been raised over coronavirus outbreaks, but also a general lack of organisation and building work that is incomplete. This spurred Patrice Motsepe, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) president, to emphasise that he expects the finals to go ahead as planned.

Guinea have since reportedly included Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita in their extended squad for the tournament which will be held in Cameroon from 9 January to 6 February. The West African country became the first to finalise its selection of a 27-man squad on Tuesday, SABC News reported.

Three Liverpool frontline players

Along with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, Keita is likely to be the first among the three title-chasing Anfield club's players to be officially drafted as part of their country's plans for the continental spectacle, according to Mail Online.

Former Arsenal forward Kaba Diawara, who recently replaced Frenchman Didier Six as Guinea coach, has also included Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba's brother in his squad.

Florentin Pogba plays as a defender for Sochaux in the French second tier, with his twin brother, Mathias, sporting the colours for the France-based ASM Belfort in the Championnat National 2, the fourth tier in the league system of football in France.

CAF, FIFA under attack as Afcon 2021 in doubt

Earlier, prior to Motsepe's statement, Sports Brief reported that a cloud of uncertainty continues to linger over next month's AFCON tournament. There are reservations among interested parties threatening the event's status.

As reported in Sports Brief, one of them includes European clubs threatening to not release their African players, citing Covid-19 protocol complications.

The tournament had traditionally taken place during January on a two-year cycle, a previous point of contention for the Europeans as they lost their players during the busiest part of their season.

CAF then moved the tournament to the June-July window starting in 2019 to become more accommodating of the global football calendar. Unfavourable weather conditions, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, forced two postponements, resulting in next month’s selection as the best time to hold the event.

Tshepiso Mametela photo
Tshepiso Mametela
SA Editor