Eric Bailly has been included in Ivory Coast’s AFCON squad. Credit: Getty.
Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has been included in the Ivory Coast squad for the upcoming African Cup of Nations (AFCON), but his team-mate Amad has been overlooked.
The tournament begins on 9 January with the final taking place on 6 February.
Which games will Bailly miss?
That very much depends on Ivory Coast’s success in the tournament. The Elephants kick off their campaign on 12 January when they play Equatorial Guinea.
Ivory Coast, who have twice won AFCON, also play Sierra Leone and reigning African champions Algeria.
The last of those games could see two Manchester-based players come head-to-head with Riyad Mahrez likely to be involved for Algeria. That game takes place on 20 January and could be Bailly’s last involvement in the tournament, although they are favourites to progress with Algeria.
The round of 16 lasts from 23-25 January, with the quarter-finals between 29-30 January. The semi-finals take place on 2-3 February and the final and third-place play-off are on 6 February.
All this means Bailly will definitely miss next month’s double header with Aston Villa in the FA Cup and Premier League, and almost certainly the home clash with West Ham United.
Depending on when the squad meet up, the defender may be unavailable for the league meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers on 3 January, and should Ivory Coast progress in the tournament he could miss a potential FA Cup fourth-round fixture and the trip to face Burnley (8 February).
Is it a surprise Amad has missed out?
In some senses, no. The youngster has had a difficult 2021/22 and, due to injury, has only made one senior appearance this season.
A quick glance through the Ivory Coast squad shows the quality they have in the wide areas. Zaha and Pepe, for a start, are great options, while Jeremie Boga is also a much more established first-team player.
However, there’s no doubting Amad’s talent, and he has been involved in previous squads, so many would have expected him to be included in the Elephants’ AFCON campaign.
Can Ivory Coast win the tournament?
Along with the likes of Algeria, Senegal, Egypt and hosts Cameroon, Ivory Coast would be considered among the favourites to win the competition.
The Elephants have won AFCON twice (1992 & 2015) and were eliminated in the quarter-final stage in the last edition, held in 2019.
Ivory Coast squad in full
Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohouo, Badra Ali Sangare, Abdoul Karim Cisse, Ira Eliezer Tape
Defenders: Serge Aurier, Eric Bailly, Willy Boly, Wilfried Kanon, Odilon Kossounou, Simon Deli, Ghislain Konan
Midfielders: Habib Maiga, Maxwel Cornet, Serey Die, Ibrahim Sangare, Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro, Franck Kessie, Hamed Traore, Jeremie Boga, Max Gradel, Jean Michael Seri
Forwards: Wilfried Zaha, Jean Evrard Kouassi, Nicolas Pepe, Sebastien Haller, Christian Kouame, Yohan Boli, Karim Konate