Rangers look to have been dealt a considerable blow after the head of media relations for CAF told The Guardian that the Africa Cup of Nations will go ahead as planned.
Earlier this week, rumours that the tournament would be postponed or cancelled were gaining momentum amid increasing concerns about the Omicron variant.
CAF official deals blow to Rangers
However, Lux September dashed the hopes of fans of clubs across Europe on Wednesday.
“Afcon will be staged in Cameroon on 9 January 2022,” he said [The Guardian]. “That is alpha. And omega.”
As a result, Gio van Bronckhorst could lose as many as three key players in early 2022.
Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun both established themselves as regular starters for Nigeria under recently sacked manager Gernot Rohr and while Calvin Bassey missed out on the most recent Super Eagles squad, it’s difficult to imagine him not being called up given his excellent form in recent weeks.
As AFCON is set to run from 9th January to 6th February, with squads meeting up in advance for training camps, those involved could miss a handful of Rangers matches, including the Old Firm on 2nd January.
Leon Balogun has been out injured for several weeks but Aribo has been the standout player in Scotland since GvB’s appointment as manager, and Bassey has excelled as a makeshift centre-back in the absence of Balogun and Filip Helander.
It would be a major blow for the Gers to be without all three stars during the early stages of 2022 and other players would need to raise their game for Rangers to negotiate the period safely.