Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers face disruption to their seasons in the New Year thanks to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
That’s because the 2023 edition of the tournament will now take place in January 2024, having been delayed due to the adverse summer weather concerns in host nation Ivory Coast.
Here we look at which players, teams and Gameweeks will be affected.
WHEN IS AFCON 2023?
AFCON will take place between Saturday 13 January and Sunday 11 February 2024, covering Gameweeks 21 to 24 in FPL.
Thankfully, when it comes to pre-tournament call-ups, the week before this is dedicated to the FA Cup and EFL Cup.
Gameweek 20 starts in the final days of December.
The dates for the AFCON knockout round ties haven’t yet been announced, so we can’t yet pinpoint when eliminated players will return to club action.
AFCON + FPL CALENDAR
|WEEKEND 1||Sat 13 Jan||Sun 14 Jan||GAMEWEEK 21 (first half of split week)|
|MIDWEEK 1||Tues 16 Jan||Wed 17 Jan|
|WEEKEND 2||Sat 20 Jan||Sun 21 Jan||GAMEWEEK 21 (second half of split week)|
|MIDWEEK 2||Tues 23 Jan||Wed 24 Jan|
|WEEKEND 3||Sat 27 Jan||Sun 28 Jan||FA CUP FOURTH ROUND|
|MIDWEEK 3||Tues 30 Jan||Wed 31 Jan||GAMEWEEK 22|
|WEEKEND 4||Sat 3 Feb||Sun 4 Feb||GAMEWEEK 23|
|MIDWEEK 4||Tues 6 Feb||Wed 7 Feb|
|WEEKEND 5||Sat 10 Feb||Sun 11 Feb||GAMEWEEK 24|
This season sees the return of the winter break, so the first two-and-a-half weeks of AFCON will only see competing players miss one Premier League encounter.
AFCON: AFFECTED PLAYERS IN FPL
15 of the 24 participating teams are now known and the rest will qualify in September. It’s early days of course but these players are likely to be called up in January:
|ARSENAL||Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)|
|ASTON VILLA||Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)|
|B’MOUTH||Hamed Traore (Ivory Coast), Dango Ouattara (Burkina Faso)|
|BRENTFORD||Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)|
|BURNLEY||Anass Zaroury (Morocco), Lyle Foster (South Africa)|
|CHELSEA||David Datro Fofana (Ivory Coast), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Edouard Mendy (Senegal), Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)|
|C PALACE||Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast), Cheick Doucoure (Mali)|
|EVERTON||Idrissa Gueye (Senegal), Alex Iwobi (Nigeria), Abdoulaye Doucoure (Mali)|
|LIVERPOOL||Mohamed Salah (Egypt)|
|MAN CITY||Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)|
|MAN UTD||Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast), Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast)|
|N FOREST||Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast), Willy Boly (Ivory Coast), Moussa Niakhate (Senegal), Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria), Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria)|
|SHEFF UTD||Iliman Ndiaye (Senegal), Ismaila Coulibaly (Mali)|
|TOTTENHAM||Pape Matar Sarr (Senegal) Yves Bissouma (Mali)|
|WEST HAM||Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast), Nayef Aguerd (Morocco), Said Benrahma (Algeria)|
|WOLVES||Rayan Ait-Nouri (Algeria), Boubacar Traore (Mali)|
Several of Chelsea’s African contingent are heavily linked with moves away and this would leave Nottingham Forest far in front as the side most affected by AFCON.
Mohamed Salah is the major FPL name to have already qualified and it’ll be interesting to see if Wilfried Zaha and Riyad Mahrez continue as Premier League players.
Other names that could soon be added include Brentford attackers Bryan Mbeumo (Cameroon) and Yoane Wissa (DR Congo), alongside Tariq Lamptey (Ghana), Samuel Bastien (DR Congo) and the Ghanaian Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME?
The previous tournament happened between 9 January and 6 February 2022, covering only Gameweeks 22 and 23.
With Senegal, Egypt, Cameroon and Burkina Faso as the final four, FPL owners of Salah, Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy had to nervously wait to see how soon they’d be reintroduced to domestic action.
Salah was reduced to a 30-minute cameo in Gameweek 24 following his late return, while Liverpool team-mate Mane – part of the triumphant Senegal side – wasn’t in the squad at all.
Chelsea and Mendy blanked in Gameweeks 24 and 25 as they participated in the Club World Cup.
Next year’s finalists will have six days until Gameweek 25, which shouldn’t be too problematic.
FPL STRATEGY: A LATER WILDCARD?
A little early to be thinking about the Fantasy ramifications? Perhaps, but those FPL managers who are planning to play an early Wildcard may want to consider the impact that a later activation may have.
As well as being able to negotiate a Salah exit or make plans for his return, there’s an expected blank for Manchester City in Gameweek 18 to be thinking about.
Fantasy managers have up to and including Gameweek 19 to use their first Wildcard and, unlike last season, there aren’t the bonus unlimited transfers in mid-season to act as a third overhaul.