A Championship XI of Africa Cup of Nations absentees

Benjamin Bloom
Semi Ajayi Jean Michael Seri Seny Dieng

With the Africa Cup Of Nations just days away now, we’ve put together an XI of players playing in the EFL Championship heading out to Cameroon to represent their countries. There’s only a small sample size but enough to make a pretty decent team on paper.


Goalkeeper: Seny Dieng (QPR) Senegal
Dieng may not see too much on pitch action given Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy is in the squad, however he’s currently playing in a top six Championship team and is among the most trusted keepers in the division.


Centre-back: Semi Ajayi (West Brom) Nigeria
West Brom centre half Ajayi may not have fully convinced manager Valerian Ismael to build his back three around him just yet, but he’s by far our best option at centre-back. A star with Rotherham where he also stepped into midfield, Ajayi was promoted with West Brom under Slaven Bilic and looking at the rest of our team his height may be vital.

Right centre-back: Andy Yiadom (Reading) Ghana
A little creative license is needed here but we’re short of centre-backs so Yiadom is going to have to play on the right hand side of a three. The Reading man has proved himself versatile and covered in both full-back positions, but is going to have to tuck inside to help out here. It should be noted that the Ghana squad was still provisional last time I checked.


Left centre-back: Baba Rahman (Reading) Ghana
Deja vu anyone? Another Reading and Ghana player, another full-back who is going to have to step inside into a back three to help our team cope at centre-back. Rahman is on loan from Chelsea but a Reading regular this season on the left hand side of the Royals back four.


Right wing-back: Osman Kakay (QPR) Sierra Leone
Kakay is our second QPR player and although he’s currently behind Albert Adomah in terms of the Rangers first XI, he’s going straight into our side at right wing-back.


Left wing-back: Jordan Zemura (Bournemouth) Zimbabwe
A breakout star for Bournemouth this season, Zemura has been excellent at left-back in Scott Parker’s side, who currently lead the division. The Zimbabwean has dovetailed brilliantly with Jaidon Anthony down the Cherries left and will have even more license in our team from a slightly advanced starting point at wing-back.


Central midfield: Jean Michaël Seri (Fulham) Ivory Coast
I honestly didn’t expect Seri to stay at Fulham this season, so he’s a welcome surprise in our XI. As an expensive signing in the ill fated summer 2018 transfer window, Fulham have had to loan Seri out twice in his career at the Cottage to remove his salary from their balance sheet. The Ivory Coast man will add quality in deep central midfield, although he further adds to the problem with our lack of height defensively.

Central midfield: James Lea Siliki (Middlesbrough) Cameroon
Siliki makes the squad for the home nation, but honestly makes our XI by process of deduction. In his time at the Riverside he’s not done enough to impress either Neil Warnock or Chris Wilder and get into the Boro XI, but he makes ours.


Attacking midfield right: Idris Kanu (Peterborough) Sierra Leone
Kanu is our lowest ranking player as his side Peterborough are currently in the bottom three. The fact that Kanu can’t get into that side and is in our XI is slightly worrying, but we’re all out of options here. As a former West Ham youngster I’m sure the calibre is there and he’d thrive given the chance.


Attacking midfield left: Ilias Chair (QPR) Morocco
Perhaps our star player, QPR’s Chair will play in his favoured position coming into the attack from the left hand side. Like his compatriot and former QPR hero Adel Taraabt, we might have to play disproportionately through the little Moroccan, but at least there’s a plan. Chair once again does add to an alarming like of height in the side.

Striker: Admiral Muskwe (Luton) Zimbabwe
Our focal point, bringing some much needed size, physicality and hopefully goals, is Luton’s Admiral Muskwe. He’s struggling to get ahead of Elijah Adebayo for the Hatters, but hopefully that just means he’s ready to unleash goals on all who stand in his way.