“Tottenham’s AFCON Shakeup: Sarr and Bissouma’s Unexpected Absence Sets Stage for January Drama”

Joe Lee

Pape Matar Sarr and Yves Bissouma will be missing for Tottenham in January and potentially early February as they take part in the 2023 AFCON tournament in Ivory Coast

Pape Matar Sarr and Yves Bissouma have learned who they will face in the Africa Cup of Nations, which begins in mid-January. The Tottenham duo, representing Senegal and Mali, will compete in the competition in Ivory Coast, injuries permitting.

Senegal will face high expectations in the competition after winning it two years ago by defeating Egypt in the final. Sarr will undoubtedly play an important part for the Lions of Teranga, just as he has for Tottenham this season after breaking into Ange Postecoglou’s starting lineup.

Mali, on the other hand, will be looking to fare better than they did last time out having lost on penalties to Equatorial Guinea in the Round of 16. Breezing through qualification with five wins from six in their qualifying group, Bissouma will be hoping to lead his country to the latter stages of the competition.

Ahead of the tournament commencing on Saturday, January 13, the draw for the Africa Cup of Nations was finalised in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Thursday evening. Reigning champions Senegal were drawn in Group C along with Cameroon, Guinea and The Gambia, whereas Mali are in Group E alongside Tunisia, South Africa, and Namibia.

Sarr and Senegal start their tournament with a clash against The Gambia on Monday, January 15, followed by a mouth-watering showdown with Cameroon three days later. They then finish their group against Guinea on Tuesday, January 23.

Mali take on South Africa in their Group E opener on Tuesday, January 16 before they play Tunisia four days later. Their Group E fixtures then draw to a conclusion against Namibia on Wednesday, January 24.

Dates don’t appear to be set in stone for the knockout phase just yet but the final at Alassane Ouattara Stadium will be played on Sunday, February 11. While everyone at Tottenham will want both Sarr and Bissouma to go all the way and triumph in the competition, many would no doubt welcome an early return for the pair as they are major players in Postecoglou’s exciting Spurs team.

Unless there is some way Spurs can somehow strike an agreement with Sarr and Bissouma’s respective countries for a late arrival into camp so that they can take part in their away game at Manchester United on Saturday, January 13, it does appear that they will be missing for the game at Old Trafford. Providing that Tottenham do progress through from their FA Cup third round tie, the pair will also very likely be absent for that match as the fourth round of the competition is due to be played the weekend of Saturday, January 27.

They could then potentially be missing for Brentford at home on Tuesday, January 30, Everton away on Saturday, February 3 and Brighton & Hove Albion at home the following weekend but that will all depend on how far Senegal and Mali progress in the Africa Cup of Nations. Spurs will also have to make do without Son Heung-min during the same period as the AFC Asian Cup is scheduled to be played between Friday, January 12 and Saturday, February 10.

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