Premier League clubs will face disruption next season after Cameroon announced the Africa Cup of Nations will be moved from the summer to January 2021.
The tournament was due to be held in June and July but, due to weather conditions in the country at that time of year, the Cameroon Football Federation has decided to stage it between January 9 and February 6.
“It (2021 Africa Cup of Nations) will be played in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2021. Date changed for weather reasons at Cameroon’s request,” the federation posted on Twitter after a meeting with representatives from the Confederation of African Football.
The move will have major implications for Premier League clubs with Liverpool likely to be particularly badly affected with Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Naby Keita (Guinea) all potentially unavailable to play for the club during that period.
Salah could miss even more football for Liverpool next season with Egypt U23 coach Shawky Gharib indicating last November that he would like the forward as one of three over-age players in his squad for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Egypt have already qualified for the Games which will run from July 22 to August 8, and Salah’s participation could see him unavailable for Liverpool’s opening matches of next season.
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) and Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast) are also likely to feature in addition to Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez as well as a number of other Premier League club first-team players.
Since 1960, the tournament was always held during winter or early spring, mainly due to climate reasons and to avoid conflict with other international tournaments or club competitions, but it was changed last year when Egypt hosted the first summer tournament.