Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah will not feature for Senegal and Egypt respectively until the third international window in November, it has been confirmed.
Both players have barely had enough rest during the summer holidays over the last two seasons with both of them featuring for their respective countries at the World Cup in Russia last year and then playing in this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations.
And after returning to Liverpool after the AFCON, Mane said, “I haven’t had holidays of over 20 days for seven years but I am used to it. I am ready. I am here now so let’s do it.”
The Africa Cup of Nations which ended on July 19 followed a grueling campaign featuring a relentless Premier League title challenge and a run up to the final of the Champions League which they won, and only started pre-season training with Liverpool on August 5.
The Senegalese star then came on as a 74th minute substitute against Norwich on August 9, and has started all four of Liverpool’s games since.
And the reason why both players will not feature for their countries until November is because of the African Nations Championship, not to be confused with the Africa Nations Cup.
The African Nations Championship is only open to players currently playing in their own national league.
The finals will take place in Cameroon in January and February next year, replacing the old slot that used to be taken up by the Africa Cup of Nations which often dismayed European teams. Liverpool, for example, suffered a huge drop-off in form when Mane went to the tournament in January 2017.
But the former Southampton man won’t feature when Senegal host Guinea – who won’t have Naby Keita – in their African Nations Championship qualifier in Dakar on September 19, with the return leg a month later.
Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe will be in action this week, as Ivory Coast have arranged friendlies against Benin and Tunisia, both of which are in France.
The Elephants’ domestic team will then face Niger in a two-legged African Nations Championship tie in September and October, before the overseas-based players return to play Niger in an African Nations Cup qualifier in November.