Mohamed Salah (Credit Image: © Kim Price/Cal Sport Media) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

New AFCON dates confirmed that clash with Premier League’s busiest month

The next iteration of the Africa Cup of Nations has officially been moved to dates that clash with the Premier League‘s busiest month, sparking new concerns.

Though AFCON is now nominally scheduled for summer, two of the last three tournaments have been forced to move to winter due to adverse weather conditions.

For clubs in Europe, this causes problems with releasing players for AFCON when they are still playing in both domestic and continental competitions.

Liverpool have felt this in recent years with the absences of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and, to a lesser extent, Naby Keita.

That could happen again in 2025/26, with the next AFCON, to be held in Morocco, now confirmed to have been rescheduled for between December 21, 2025 and January 18, 2026.

Salah, Egypt booked their place in the African Cup of Nations final (Themba Hadebe/AP)

The tournament was initially moved from summer in order to avoid clashes with FIFA’s new Club World Cup, while further consideration was made for the expanded Champions League.

It means that AFCON will be held over one of the Premier League‘s busiest periods, clashing with festive fixtures as clubs face the prospect of losing key players.

While it remains to be seen whether Liverpool will be affected, as Salah is the only eligible player currently in the squad and his contract is set to expire next summer, it will still be a lingering issue.

The Press Association reported earlier this month that clubs could block players from appearing at either the 2025 AFCON or 2026 World Cup due to FIFA rules.

2WCAEKC January 14 2024: Mohamed Salah Salah Mahrous Ghaly (Egypt) celebrates the second goal during a African Cup of Nations Group B game, Egypt vs Mozambique, at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Kim Price/CSM (Credit Image: © Kim Price/Cal Sport Media) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

Their regulations stipulate that “it is not compulsory to release the same player for more than one ‘A’ representative team final competition per year.”

Given the World Cup is held during the off-season, the obvious decision for clubs would be to reject call-ups by African nations for AFCON.

It is a messy situation which could feasibly lead clubs to think twice when exploring deals for African players, given the regular impact on their availability.

Liverpool have been linked with a move for West Ham‘s Ghana forward Mohammed Kudus this summer, while the club are expected to enter talks with Salah over a contract extension.