Manchester United set to miss Andre Onana, Sofyan Amrabat, Amad Diallo and Hannibal Mejbri for nine games due to the upcoming African Cup of Nations
According to the Manchester Evening News, Manchester United may have to do without Andre Onana, Sofyan Amrabat, Amad Diallo, and Hannibal Mejbri for as many as nine matches due to their participation in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
New signing Onana made his return to international duty with Cameroon recently, and the West African team secured their place in the final stage of the competition with a 3-0 victory over Burundi at home.
On the other hand, Morocco and Amrabat had already secured their spot in the tournament on the previous matchday, with their final group game postponed due to an earthquake.
Meanwhile, Man United youngster Mejbri’s Tunisian side put on a spectacular performance to defeat Egypt and book their place in the upcoming tournament.
However, Amad Diallo could not make it to the Ivory Coast team due to an injury but could be available for them before the major tournament.
Due to these nations’ active participation in the African campaign, all four Man United players are expected to be absent from several club matches at the start of the upcoming year.
The 2023 AFCON is set to take place in the Ivory Coast from January 13 to February 11.
In the event that any of these United players advance to the final stages of the tournament, they may be absent for several Premier League matches, including games against Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Ham United, and Aston Villa.
Furthermore, if they are involved in both the Carabao Cup semi-finals and the FA Cup’s third and fourth rounds, they could miss both legs of the Carabao Cup semis as well as those rounds of the FA Cup.
In addition to the eight fixtures mentioned, there’s a possibility that these players may not be available for the FA Cup third-round tie scheduled for January 5/6/7. This is because their respective African nations could call them up for a pre-tournament camp ahead of the AFCON.
Furthermore, apart from those eight fixtures, they might also miss the first leg of the Champions League round of 16, which could be scheduled just 48 hours after the AFCON final.
During Onana’s absence, it is likely that Altay Bayindir will take his place in goal for United. In the case of Amrabat’s international duties in early 2024, Scott McTominay could see an increase in his playing time.
Meanwhile, Diallo continues to recover from his injury and has already missed the start of the season with the Red Devils.
Mejbri has seen limited game time this season, and it remains to be seen whether he prefers to stay put at Old Trafford amid strong interest from Turkish club Besiktas.
Amid all the noise, it is crucial for Erik ten Hag to manage his players properly, as he faces some tricky fixtures at the start of the year. It is absolutely crucial for the team to have their players fit and ready to fill the void left by the unavailable ones.
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Being in four-cup competitions will likely bring more pressure and an intense game schedule. Hence, it is of utmost importance for the manager to actively rotate his players and maintain the freshness of the team.
Still, it remains to be seen how many games these four players will exactly miss since they can come back early if their respective nations are knocked out early from the competition.