Thomas Tuchel handed another Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech blow at Chelsea after AFCON draw



The Africa Cup of Nations group stage draw has been made and it’s not exactly good news for Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel.

Last won by Algeria in 2019, the latest edition of the competition was due to be staged at the beginning of this year (2021), however, it was forced to be pushed back by 12 months due to the coronavirus crisis.

This is after the Africa Cup of Nations tournament as a whole was moved back to its original winter slot.

The tournament was moved to the summer months following a decision by their executive committee in 2017, but after just one competition, it has been confirmed that it will now return to its original January-February format.

One of the reasons for the change is the temperature and weather both being more favourable in the opening two months of the year.

As a result, the tournament in Cameroon will be staged from January 9, 2022 to February 9, 2022.

The timing of the tournament, as expected, won’t be warmly received by too many Premier League managers, with some of their key players poised to miss a large portion of the season.

And Tuchel is no different.

As things stand for the Chelsea boss, he is facing up to the prospect of being without goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech – and potentially Baba Rahman – in the early months of 2022.

With that said, the AFCON group stage draw has been made and it hasn’t been kind to the reigning champions of Europe.

In Senegal and Morocco respectively, Mendy and Ziyech represent two of the stronger African nations and there’s a scenario that would see Tuchel without his first-choice goalkeeper and one of his standout players in pre-season for up to a month.

Just like with the Euros, the best four third-placed teams will advance to the round of 16 alongside the top two teams from each group.

So one would expect Senegal to emerge from a group that contains Zimbabwe, Guinea and Malawi. Whilst the same applies to Ziyech’s Morocco who are in Group C with Ghana, Comoros and Gabon.

Even if neither team seals a top-two finish in their respective groups, there will still be a chance of finishing third which would extend their stay in Cameroon.

In truth, a much tougher group for one of Ziyech and Mendy would have been ideal for Tuchel as that increases the likelihood of an earlier return.

But it’s looking likely that the Chelsea head coach has been handed another blow.

During the period in which AFCON 2021 takes place, the Blues have games against Manchester City as well as Tottenham and could also be involved in the latter stages of the two domestic cup competitions.

Interestingly, If at least one of the aforementioned duo reaches the final, which takes three days before Chelsea host Arsenal, it would automatically make them doubtful for the London derby.





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