Although Mali have yet to release a list of players for the African Nations Cup finals, Abdoulay Diaby has been ruled out of the tournament in Gabon with injury.
The 25-year-old striker was named at the end of last season as one of the top five African players in the leagues in Europe after helping Club Brugge to win the Belgian championship in April and his absence will come as a blow to Mali’s hopes.
Diaby competed in the Champions League this season but was hurt in action against Porto last month and has not played since. He is only expected to be fit again at the end of January, Belgian press reports said.
French-born Diaby has been a Mali international since 2014 and competed at the last Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea where Mali were eliminated in the first round after a toss of the coin when they finished exactly equal with Guinea in their group.
Next month, Mali will compete in Group D in Port Gentil where they take on Egypt, Ghana and Uganda.
© Mzansi Football