, ,

AFCON aftermath: Mixed fortunes for Africa's international players

Sehrou Guirassy Stuttgart
AFCON aftermath: Mixed fortunes for Africa's international players

A week after the AFCON, some Ivorian players are breathing joy and confidence on the pitch.The pretext for this return to form is taken to question the aftermath of the competition for the disappointed, and other frustrated players, as well as the winners.

Simon Adingra and Oumar Diakité, following on from their victory at the AFCON, scored brilliantly for their clubs on their return. The former scored his first brace, by chance or in connection with the AFCON? Diakité scored and put his weight behind Reims' match against Lens. Osimhen, on the other hand, returned injured. Other players disappointed by the AFCON with early eliminations, such as Egyptian Mostafa Mohamed, André Ayew, Lamine Camara, Bentaleb..., have recovered rather well.

Which makes us wonder about the impact that an AFCON victory, or elimination from the competition, can have on a player. Players and coaches with a wealth of personal experience speak out.


Burkinabe Jonathan Pitroipa looks back on his AFCON success in 2013. He finished as the tournament's best player. Burkina Faso lost the final to Nigeria (1-0). Before the AFCON, Pitroipa had scored 6 goals and provided 4 assists for his club. For many, his AFCON was a logical step towards boosting his confidence, with the status of best African player.

However, this break, for various reasons, was detrimental to the rest of his Ligue 1 season, he told L'Equipe."I was emotionally and physically tired.Looking back, I think I could have done with a few days' rest instead of going straight back to Rennes. As soon as I got back, I fell ill because of the change in temperature and I never got back into my rhythm towards the end of the season", he recalls. His statistical record on his return was poor, with 1 goal and 2 assists. The rest of Rennes' season, of which he had been one of the spearheads, was to suffer as a result, with a tumble in the standings.

Also in the French daily, coach Frederic Antonetti recalls Gyan Asomoah's dip in form after playing in the AFCON 2010 final. Before the inter-African competition, the striker had scored 8 goals, compared to 5 on his return."Asamoah Gyan was walking on water before AFCON 2010 (8 goals) when he left, 13 in total over the season), where he reached the final with Ghana. But he wasn't the same after his return. To get these players back on track, it's not a matter of days, but almost weeks.Psychologically, they're done for. Waiting for an entire country puts a lot of pressure on them, and they'll have to decompress when they get back," he says.

Technicians talk about recovery, emotions, climate

Others, regardless of the disappointments and joys of winning or losing the AFCON, mention other considerations such as player fatigue. They put forward situations that do not follow any law, but respond on a case-by-case basis.

"Each situation is different.For example, Moffi played less with Nigeria and should come back a little fresher at Nice than Simon at Nantes. But the switch between African excitement and European calm can be difficult to make. You have to know how to adapt to the players and take the time you need to get them going again," says Gernot Rohr.

Alexandre Dellal, former physical trainer at OGC Nice and a former member of the Ivorian and Algerian national teams, adds: "When you come back from an African Cup of Nations, it's case-by-case.
You have to assess the situation, taking into account a number of factors: travel, matches played and playing time, training workload, pitch quality. Once these contextual factors have been assessed, we decide on a strategy with the player.

AFCON aftermath: different situations for different people

As pointed out by these technicians and players, the aftermath of the African Cup of Nations has produced different post-season situations for different players. Salah and Drogba, for example, despite a number of setbacks, have always returned to their clubs in good form. Pitroipa and Asomoah, on the other hand, collapsed after their AFCON successes, while the Fennecs team, after their victory in 2019, saw their players often shine for their respective clubs. In Senegal again, after the 2022 victory, the situations were different depending on the players. This did not lead to exceptional or unforgettable seasons for players buoyed by their competition. Although Sadio Mané was crowned African Ballon d'Or winner. No doubt the African Cup of Nations weighed more heavily than his club season.

This shows us that a good or bad campaign at the competition can lead to seasons that don't follow any logic. A brilliant player at the AFCON can fade away on his return to the club, while a less brilliant player can make sparks fly.

Denis Troch, mental coach and former trainer, gives his opinion to L'Equipe on the management of players returning from the AFCON. "In my opinion, you have to differentiate between the "winners" and the "disappointed".Post-success, players can experience a logical decompression. This can take the form of a drop in motivation, but a fairly easy rebound.In this case, it's up to the club to capitalize on the winner's influence to improve the group. On the other hand, after the disappointment of an early elimination or a lost final, motivation can also drop sharply, leading to depression. This has to be treated, otherwise the player may become sad or aggressive over the long term, sometimes to the detriment of the club", he believes. He goes on to address the specific case of the most disappointed."Generally speaking, players don't really want to be cajoled. They just want to get back on track as quickly as possible, sometimes too quickly.

For the most disappointed, it's important to turn the page, to accept what's happened and rediscover the pleasure of playing.

In his view, "it's sometimes better to lose eight or ten days in the short term, to get back to being a better player in the long term. Finally, in his opinion, it takes time to move on after an African Cup of Nations. "Personally, I like to say that you don't mourn the end of one competition until the start of the next. In the case of an African Cup of Nations, the cycle would take two years to completely move on.That doesn't mean that, in the meantime, traumas or joys can't resurface in similar situations.

Schedule-related problems

The African Cup of Nations also poses other concerns, as the players who have been irremovably sidelined may find themselves back in their positions, given their status. But for other players, the competition may mean the loss of their starting places, with competitors shining in their absence. This should spur them on to try and regain their starting places. This is why the AFCON calendar is often indexed. It means a break in the middle of the season, sometimes leading players to decline their call-up. The Moroccan edition of 2025, scheduled for July and August 2025, will solve the problem and allay the fears of players likely to lose their place.. But there are still those who prove their true worth and manage to earn another status on their return, for whom the AFCON will have sounded like a second chance or even a blessing and finally, those who played for local or second-rate clubs will have the opportunity to make their mark...

SNA tells you more!

No recommendation
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram