While Klopp and co have waved off some of the league’s biggest names this month, the bad news for the bosses (and fans) is that it could all happen again in just 12 months’ time.
Key players like Mohamed Salah and Andre Onana have missed out on Premier League fixtures in recent weeks while representing their countries at the competition, with the former limping back to Liverpool having picked up an injury.
The tournament is usually held every two years. However, Covid-19 postponements and bad weather conditions have disrupted the standard scheduling.
This year’s AFCON, hosted by Ivory Coast, was supposed to take place in 2023, but was delayed due to concerns about the impact of the tropical rainy season.
That means that the event is now scheduled to be held for two years in a row, in 2024 and 2025. But with plans for an expanded 32-team Club World Cup – for which two African teams have already qualified – the exact dates for AFCON 2025 have been thrown into question.
Here’s what we know about when the African Cup of Nations 2025 could take place – and if it will impact the European football season.
When is the next AFCON?
The 2025 AFCON tournament will be hosted by Morocco, but its exact dates are yet to be confirmed.
The country took over from the original host, Guinea, who were stripped of their hosting rights because they did not have adequate infrastructure and facilities.
Morocco hopes that its hosting duties will improve their future bids to host the World Cup – which they have unsuccessfully bid for five times.
Matches will take place at five venues: the Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangier, the Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, the Mohammad V Stadium in Casablanca, the Adrar Stadium in Agadir, the Marrakesh Stadium in Marrakesh, and the Fez Stadium in Fez.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) reportedly wants the 2025 event to take place in June and July, a move that would solve the conflict with the European football season.
However, FIFA are concerned that a mid-year AFCON would clash with the FIFA Club World Cup with the the new version of the competition being held in the USA from 13 June to 15 July 2025.
CAF and FIFA are currently in discussion to negotiate dates, according to Ahmed Yahya, CAF’s second vice-president.
‘What is certain is that we are looking for the interest of the AFCON, which is to play in the summer because it is there that we have the opportunity to have free players, more than in January,’ he said in an interview in September 2023.
He also said that Morocco is ‘playable in the summer’.
CAF president Patrice Motsepe said: ‘We want the Cup of Nations to take place when it is most favourable and convenient for the tournament’.
The Africa Cup of Nations has been running since 1996. It was originally held in the first three months of the year.
In 2017, CAF pledged to hold the event in June and July, to avoid clashes with European clubs in the winter which forced many of the tournaments star players to miss key fixtures for their club sides.
AFCON took place in June and July in Egypt in 2019. However, recent rescheduling has played havoc with CAF’s mid-year commitment.
The 2021 AFCON was originally planned to take place in Cameroon in June and July 2021. However, organisers moved the event to the winter months due to weather conditions in Cameroon’s summer.
Then, the event was delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It eventually took place in January and February 2022.
Similar scheduling conflicts have plagued the 2023 AFCON. The Ivory Coast-hosted tournament was pushed back from summer 2023 to January 2024 because of weather concerns. June to July is Ivory Coast’s tropical rainy season.
‘We cannot take the risk,’ said CAF president Patrice Motsepe.
However, there are hopes that weather conditions will not impact the 2025 games in Morocco.
Morocco has hot dry summers. Daily average temperatures in July range between 29C and 36C, with cooler evenings.
Players packing their bags
This year’s event has led to Premier League players missing games in the UK – and if FIFA gets their way, AFCON could be held again at the same time next year.
More than 30 players have left the Premier League for this month’s tournament. Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny both play for Egypt, while Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traoré is playing for Burkina Faso.
Manchester United’s Sofyan Amrabat, Amad Diallo, and Andre Onana are also all playing in this year’s AFCON.
The likes of Mohammed Kudus, Yves Bissouma, Nicolas Jackson and Idrissa Gueye are also among the 31 missing a crucial and congested period of club football.
The current tournament, which is taking place in the Ivory Coast, will end on 11 February.
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