Concern ahead of Afcon qualifiers as French clubs block release of African players

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The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) has confirmed the French clubs’ decision to restrict players from travelling for any international games outside of Europe.

The decision was reached during a meeting between Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs on Wednesday with respect to player safety against the coronavirus.

Majority of African countries have their top stars plying their trade in France and Wednesday's memo comes as a disappointment ahead of the final qualifying fixtures for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

African nations will need to compete without their key players including Zimbabwe striker Tino Kadewere (Lyon), Nigeria winger Moses Simon (Nantes), Cameroon striker Karl Toko Ekambi (Lyon), Benin goalkeeper Saturnin Allagbe (Dijon), Senegal forward Boulaye Dia (Reims), DR Congo's Gael Kakuta (Lens) and a host of others.

“At the initiative of the presidents of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 colleges, a consultation was carried out on Wednesday March 17 with all club presidents concerning players outside the France A team likely to participate in a match outside of France, the EU/EEA zone during the next international period in March," the statement read.

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"In the absence of a 'septaine' exemption for foreign international players made available to their national team and in view of the response times imposed by international regulations, the clubs of Ligue 1 Uber Eats and Ligue 2 BKT have decided to unanimously this Wednesday March 17, apply the Fifa circular of February 5, 2021 taking into account the many travel restrictions in the world.

"In this context, the clubs will not make available for selection the foreign players summoned for matches outside the EU/EEA zone during the next international period in March.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Nigeria replaced Nantes winger Moses Simon by Genk striker Paul Onuachu due to the restriction while injured Bordeaux forward Samuel Kalu was changed for Galatasaray's Henry Onyekuru.