Five big names missing from Africa Cup of Nations
15 January 2015, 13:09
Malabo - When the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations begins this weekend, some of the biggest names on the continent will be missing for a variety of reasons.
AFP Sport takes a look at five stars who will not grace the tournament in Equatorial Guinea:
- DEMBA BA
Senegal coach Alain Giresse surprised many when he did not even include the prolific Ba in his preliminary squad for the finals. The 29-year-old French-born striker, formerly of Newcastle United and Chelsea, is the leading scorer for Besiktas this season, with his 16 goals in 19 games propelling them into title contention in Turkey and helping them into the knockout stage in the Europa League.
Giresse has plenty of options in attack, with Ba's former Newcastle colleague Papiss Demba Cisse, Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City, Sadio Mane of Southampton and Fenerbahce's Moussa Sow all included. However, Ba, who played at the 2012 Cup of Nations could scarcely contain his anger when he discovered that he had been dropped.
"I can't wait to hear his excuses and destroy them one by one," he wrote of Giresse in a Twitter post, before later telling Senegalese media that his coach had cited an ankle problem for leaving him out.
- VINCENT ENYEAMA
Arguably the finest goalkeeper Africa has produced, Enyeama headlines the list of star names who will not feature at this year's tournament because of defending champions Nigeria's surprise failure to qualify.
Enyeama, who was named in the team of the tournament as he helped the Super Eagles win the 2013 Cup of Nations in South Africa, has been playing the best football of his club career over the last 18 months with French side Lille. He also featured at his third World Cup last year, helping Stephen Keshi's side to the last 16 in Brazil. However, the 32-year-old could not prevent Nigeria finishing behind South Africa and Congo Brazzaville in qualifying.
- DIDIER DROGBA
Possibly the best player to come out of the continent in a generation, the 36-year-old Drogba announced his retirement from international football last summer after playing a peripheral role in the Ivory Coast's World Cup campaign.
Drogba bowed out after winning more than 100 caps for the Elephants, although sadly he will be remembered best as part of the country's golden generation which has failed to win a major international trophy. Drogba played at, and scored in, each of the last five Cups of Nations. But he missed penalties in each of their final defeats to Egypt in 2006 and Zambia in 2012. Without him, the Elephants continue their search for a first Africa Cup of Nations since 1992.
- KWADWO ASAMOAH
Part of Ghana sides that have reached the semi-finals of each of the last four tournaments - losing the 2010 final to Egypt - and the quarter-finals at the 2010 World Cup, left-back Asamoah is one of the biggest-name injury absentees from this year's Cup of Nations.
The 26-year-old Juventus star underwent knee surgery late last year that will keep him out until the spring. That is a blow for new Ghana coach Avram Grant, whose side could do with all the help they can get if they are to progress from a group that also contains Algeria, Senegal and South Africa.
- MEHDI BENATIA
Central defender Benatia is one of the highest-profile members of the Morocco squad that had been looking forward to the prospect of competing as hosts until the country asked for a postponement of the tournament over Ebola fears and were then thrown out by the Confederation of African Football.
The 27-year-old French-born player, who played in Morocco sides that were eliminated at the first hurdle in 2012 and 2013, will instead have to focus on his club career. He has so far made just eight Bundesliga appearances since a big-money move from Roma to Bayern Munich late in the transfer window last summer.
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