AFCON 2023: The Premier League players who have been knocked out

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has already served up a ridiculous amount of drama.

It has been a tournament for the underdogs so far, with a whole host of the continent’s big-hitters making early exits from the competition.

As a result, some of the Premier League’s top performers have already returned to their clubs, ready to put disappointing AFCON campaigns behind them.

Here are all the Premier League players who have been knocked out of AFCON.

  • Algeria
Algeria didn’t even make it out of their group

The 2019 winners endured a dismal and short campaign, failing to win any of their three group stage games and accumulating just two points. A defeat to lowly Mauritania in their last match put the final nail in the coffin, with two Premier League players exiting the competition.

Wolverhampton Wanderers full-back Rayan Ait-Nouri made a swift return to Molineux and even featured in the club’s FA Cup victory over Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion last Sunday. Meanwhile, Yasser Larouci, who didn’t make an appearance at the tournament, has already featured twice for Sheffield United since his nation’s AFCON exit.

  • Burkina Faso
Traore couldn’t lead Burkina Faso to the last eight

Making it out of Group D ahead of Algeria, Burkina Faso fell short in the round of 16. They came up against Mali, who boast the likes of Yves Bissouma, but suffered a 2-1 defeat that saw their 2023 AFCON come to an end.

That was good news for a number of Premier League clubs, with Luton Town welcoming back defender Issa Kabore and Bournemouth seeing Dango Ouattara return to the south coast. While not a prominent figure for Aston Villa, Bertrand Traore will make his way back to the Midlands after netting three times.

  • Cameroon
Onana will return to Man Utd after Cameroon’s exit

Cameroon were handed a tricky draw in the last 16, facing Nigeria, a nation also stacked with Premier League players. However, a 2-0 defeat ended their hopes of winning a sixth AFCON and a first since 2017.

Only one Premier League player was plying his trade for the nation, that being Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana. After joining up with Cameroon late, the stopper only made one appearance in a 3-1 group stage defeat to Senegal.

  • Egypt
Salah was also injured on international duty

Egypt were looking to extend their record number of triumphs at AFCON to eight as the Pharaohs, led by Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, looked to avenge their 2021 final defeat against Senegal.

Unfortunately, Salah was injured during the group stage, although Egypt still qualified for the knockout phase by the skin of their teeth.

However, the Liverpool forward and Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny have since been dumped out of the competition, losing on penalties in the last 16 to DR Congo.

  • Ghana
Kudus couldn’t help Ghana beyond the group stage

Ghana were drawn in a group with seven-time champions Egypt but failed to progress to the knockout phase after two draws and a defeat to Cape Verde. Having not won the tournament since the early 1980s, it was another wasted opportunity for the country.

Having missed the group opener through injury, Mohammed Kudus was the star of Ghana’s brief campaign, scoring twice in a 2-2 draw with Egypt. The West Ham attacker will return to London, as will Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew.

Antoine Semenyo played in every group game but the Bournemouth striker was unable to provide some crucial goals for Ghana.

  • Morocco
Amrabat’s Morocco underwhelmed

Morocco were one of the few big nations at this year’s tournament that eased through the group stage, but that proved insignificant in the last 16. The 2022 World Cup semi-finalists fell to a shocking 2-0 defeat against South Africa, with Man Utd welcoming Sofyan Amrabat back to Old Trafford.

West Ham will also be pleased to see centre-back Nayef Aguerd return to the London Stadium, the defender playing every minute in the competition with Morocco.

  • Senegal
The holders were knocked out by the hosts

The current holders of the competition, Senegal also blitzed the group stage, winning all three of their group stage matches. However, they faced a tough test in hosts Ivory Coast in the last 16, one that they failed to pass after losing on penalties.

As a result, Nicolas Jackson will return to Chelsea, boosting the Blues’ attacking options. Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham midfield will be bolstered by Pape Matar Sarr, while Nottingham Forest welcome back the duo of Moussa Niakhate and Chekihou Kouyate.

Fode Ballo-Toure hasn’t featured too much for Fulham this season but will provide more depth for the Cottagers moving forward. Sean Dyche will be happy to see Idrissa Gueye return to his Everton side.

  • Tunisia
Ben Slimane will return to Sheffield United

Tunisia were another side expected to be competitive at AFCON but they stumbled in the group stage, failing to win a single match.

Two draws saw them exit the group stage, with Anis Ben Slimane making his way back to Sheffield United.

  • All Premier League exits from AFCON




Rayan Ait-Nouri



Yasser Larouci


Sheffield United

Issa Kabore

Burkina Faso


Dango Ouattara

Burkina Faso


Bertrand Traore

Burkina Faso

Aston Villa

Andre Onana


Man Utd

Mohamed Elneny



Mohamed Salah



Jordan Ayew


Crystal Palace

Mohammed Kudus


West Ham

Antoine Semenyo



Nayef Aguerd


West Ham

Sofyan Amrabat


Man Utd

Fode Ballo-Toure



Idrissa Gueye



Nicolas Jackson



Chekihou Kouytate


Nottingham Forest

Moussa Niakhate


Nottingham Forest

Pape Matar Sarr



Anis Ben Slimane


Sheffield United

What we know

  • 2023 AFCON has been a tournament of huge upsets
  • Previous finalists Egypt and Senegal have already been dumped out
  • Plenty of Premier League stars are returning to their clubs.

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