Sunderland find themselves in all sorts of problems at the moment. Placed eighteenth in the league table currently, they have managed to score just 19 goals from 20 league games and have conceded almost the double (37, to be precise). The rays of revival which they showed in their last outing where they settled for a draw against Liverpool are likely to be dampened and nullified by the unavailability of their key players owing to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
The already struggling outfit might be landed a knockout punch due to the aforesaid scenario. The Black Cats have lost as many as three key players, namely, Lamine Koné, Wahbi Khazri and Didier N’Dong, courtesy of their national team commitments with Senegal, Tunisia and Gabon, respectively. The continental competition will definitely cause a lot of headaches to David Moyes, who is in charge of bailing Sunderland out of this torrid situation.
From a possible of 1800 minutes of Premier League football this season, Koné has played 1,464 minutes, whereas Khazri and N’Dong have been on the field for 451 minutes and 1306 minutes, respectively. Their absence will create havoc in the chemistry of the side and Sunderland could lose significant ground in their quest of escaping from relegation.
With the business end approaching, AFCON could be a curse for Moyes and his side. Sunderland are the second worst affected victims, behind the reigning champions Leicester City who are going to lose players who have played 3,793 minutes of Premier League football this season.
Thankfully for Sunderland, Papy Djilobodji has been omitted by the Senegal national side for the AFCON which implies that they would not lose the services of both of their central defenders. John O’Shea and Jason Denayer are the backup options which are available to Moyes with respect to the crucial central defensive slot. Although Paddy McNair can also avail himself in this regard, Sunderland might be tempted to strengthen their squad by bringing reinforcements into their side in the ongoing transfer window.
The prestigious event, which takes place every two years, will take place in Gabon with four venues for the 16-team tournament. The event will kick off from 14th of January, with the final to be held on 5th of February. It will be played in January and February, which implies that the mentioned players could be missing for several weeks, which obviously depends on how far their national side progresses.
Statistics Credits: Squawka.