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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Which African stars have already gone home?

8:54 PM MYT 23/01/2022
Jordan Ayew Andre Ayew Andy Yiadom Ghana
Which big name African All-Stars have already returned to their club sides following the group stage?

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Gabon Afrika Cup 18012017

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    Auba’s Africa Cup of Nations never got off the ground, did it?

    He tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Cameroon, then his comeback was thwarted—despite testing negative—after his post-coronavirus medical tests showed residue of the virus in his system.

    Gabon may be advancing to the Round of 16, but Aubameyang won’t be with them after the Panthers opted to send him and teammate Mario Lemina back to Europe in order for them to receive the medical attention that, Fegafoot felt, would not be possible in Cameroon.

  • Thomas Partey Ghana

    Thomas Partey

    The biggest name returning home after Ghana’s premature exit in the competition, Partey has already resumed action for Arsenal after coming off the bench in their League Cup semi-final defeat by Liverpool.

    You can understand why he’ll be desperate to put a miserable Nations Cup behind him and get back to action with the Gunners—potentially alongside Aubameyang—after the Black Stars’ horror show in Cameroon.

    Despite his team’s failings, Partey did register two assists across three group-stage matches.

  • Andre Ayew

    Andre Ayew

    Dede arrived at this tournament with a sense of destiny; determined to end Ghana’s 40-year wait for the Nations Cup gold and emulate his father—champion in 1982.

    Instead, his campaign ended in ignominy, with that stunning goal against Gabon later eclipsed by his antics at the end of that match and his controversial red card against Comoros.

    Black Stars have to pick themselves up after this miserable campaign, and Dede—despite his advancing years—surely has a key role to play as they look to reach the World Cup.

    It remains to be seen, however, whether his petulant attitude is too big a detriment to this young and developing team.

  • Riyad Mahrez Algeria Afcon 2022

    Riyad Mahrez

    Mahrez’s penalty miss in Algeria’s final group game against Ivory Coast—a chance that could have breathed life into their fading Afcon hopes—summed up the Manchester City man’s miserable stint in Cameroon.

    He actually caught the eye for the Fennecs in their opener against Sierra Leone, and was a source of creative influence, but neither he nor Algeria’s strikers could actually find the goals they needed to escape into the knockout rounds.

    Expect Mahrez to end the season with—at least—the Premier League title, but failure here will massively dent any Ballon d’Or ambitions.

  • Ismael Bennacer Milan

    Ismael Bennacer

    Another Algeria heavyweight returning to his club side prematurely is Bennacer, who was a veteran of the Fennecs’ title success in 2019.

    The AC Milan playmaker came off worse from Algeria’s matchday three duel with his Rossoneri teammate Franck Kessie as the reigning champions ended up falling short against a powerful Elephants side.

    Bennacer must now focus back on helping Milan clinch the Italian title, he returns with his club five points behind city rivals Internazionale with 16 games to play.

  • Tino Kadewere Lyon Zimbabwe

    Tino Kadewere

    Zimbabwe will surely look back on the Nations Cup with a fair few regrets, having been defeated by Malawi in a Cosafa derby that was there for the taking.

    After that 2-1 loss, it’s the Flames who progress—three points was all they needed—while Kadewere and his teammates return to their club sides with a sense of what might have been.

    Kadewere returns to Europe amidst rumours about his future at Olympique Lyonnais, with the attacker tipped for a switch to fellow Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais.

  • Guinea Bissau

    Mama Balde

    Scored one of the goals of the tournament against Egypt only for the late strike to be disallowed following a VAR intervention.

    It denied Guinea-Bissau a point that would have kept them alive going into their final match against Nigeria, and would have put the Pharaohs under pressure heading into their showdown with Sudan.

    Ultimately, Guinea-Bissau were dumped out while Egypt progressed, and Balde was denied a potential career-shaping moment.

    Instead, he returns to ESTAC Troyes, and can focus on helping them pull away from the Ligue 1 dropzone.