Ange Postecoglou will be one of a number of Premier League managers with a real headache to solve in January 2024 with the AFC Asian Cup and Africa Cup of Nations commencing at the exact same time
Ange Postecoglou is going to have quite the headache on his hands at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the turn of the year. A key time in the calendar with all clubs having the opportunity to strengthen in the transfer market, a number of Premier League players will be jetting off across the globe come the middle of January.
While of course some will be heading off for a new challenge elsewhere, quite a few will be departing England to go and represent their country with two international tournaments set to take place. The AFC Asian Cup is one of those as it will now be played in Qatar after it was initially pencilled in to be played in China this summer until it was announced that they would not host the tournament due to the Covid-19 situation in the country.Now taking place between Friday, January 12 and Saturday, February 10, new Tottenham boss Postecoglou will have to make do without Son Heung-min for a period of time. A big blow to Spurs given what the South Korean can produce in the final third, it will be a time for the club’s other attackers to step up and take on a key role in his absence.
As well as the AFC Asian Cup getting underway in January, the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations will also be taking place in January and early February. The tournament, which will be played in Ivory Coast next year, will start one day after the Asian Cup commences and draw to a conclusion 24 hours after it comes to a close.Just like the Asian Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations was due to be played this summer but it was instead pushed back to January in order to avoid Ivory Coast’s rainy season. That in turn is going to hand Premier League managers a huge challenge as many will have players of either Asian or African descent who will now be departing to play for their country.
In terms of the Africa Cup of Nations, Tottenham have Yves Bissouma and Pape Matar Sarr who represent Mali and Senegal respectively. While it’s not clear to see what will happen with Sarr just yet ahead of the coming season as a loan move could be a possibility so he can play regularly to aid his development, Bissouma is expected to play a major part in Postecoglou’s plans.
READ MORE:The seven games Ange Postecoglou and Tottenham could be without Son Heung-min due to Asian Cup
Signed from Brighton & Hove Albion last summer after wowing on the south coast, Tottenham never saw the best of the Mali international in his debut season for the club. Finding himself behind Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur in the midfield pecking order, Antonio Conte’s tactical demands also appeared to restrict the player and he struggled to replicate his Brighton form as a result.
The fact he also spent three months on the sidelines after going under the knife to repair a stress fracture to his left ankle also did not help his cause, but he did catch the eye in Spurs’ final three league games of the season under Ryan Mason once back to full fitness. The hope is that Bissouma will be able to hit the heights for Tottenham in 2023/24, especially as he did give everyone a glimpse of what is to come from him after wowing against Aston Villa, Brentford and Leeds United.
Bissouma looks made for the No.6 role in Postecoglou’s team as he can drop deep, gain possession from his centre-backs and then team up with the full-backs and wingers with his range of passing. Previously playing that way during his time at Brighton, the 26-year-old could be a major hit under the new coach.
That’s why his upcoming absence at the turn of the year due to the Africa Cup of Nations will be a real sickener to Postecoglou and Tottenham. As is the case with Son, Bissouma and Sarr could potentially miss seven games in total if they go all the way to the showpiece finale.