Newcastle will have only two players involved in the African Cup of Nations to run in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea from January 21st to February 12th.
Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote in Ivory Coast colors
The African Cup of Nations was first held back in 1957 when Egypt were the winners, beating Ethiopia 4-0 in the final, and Egypt have won it the last three times too, and have won it overall a full seven times, and are the most successful African nation.
Newcastle will have Cheick Tioe and Dem Ba missing as they will be representing the Ivory Coast and Senegal respectively, and both coutnries are likely to go far, since they won their groups undefeated.
The Ivory Coast won all six games in Group H and Senegal won five and drew the other game, 0-0 at Cameroon, in Group E.
Both countries will be expected to do well, so that could mean the two Newcastle players will be missing for most of the tournament.
Newcastle have the following fixtures in January and February around the time of the African Cup of Nations:
January 2012 Wed 04 20:00 H Man Utd Sat 14 15:00 H QPR Sat 21 15:00 A Fulham February 2012 Wed 01 20:00 A Blackburn Sat 04 15:00 H Aston Villa Sat 11 15:00 A Tottenham Sat 25 15:00 H Wolves
So it looks at the very worst that both players will miss the games at Fulham and Blackburn, the Villa game at home and Tottenham away.
Newcastle have options in central midfield, and probably the best one of them is to play the experienced Yohan Cabaye in defensive midfield, and play either Guthrie, Gosling, Abeid or Vuckic as the attacking midfielder.
And for Demba Ba, we have Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi or Sammy Ameobi to deputize up front alongside Leon Best.
And since the January window will be open, we could even see Newcastle move for a striker in early January, and he could play up front for Ba.
However, if that striker is Mobido Maiga, that will not help much, because his country, Mali, finished top of Group A, and have qualified with 10 points from their six games, although they will not be expected to go very far in the tournament.
Sochaux’s 25 year-old Modibo Maiga now has 26 caps and 4 goals for Mali.
We don’t think Newcastle will be impacted too much by losing Tiote and Ba, and after all that’s what the fringe players at Newcastle will be looking for – a chance to shine – and we think that’s exactly what they will do for Newcastle during the African Cup of Nations.
What do you think?