June 18, 2024

Neil Warnock in silent stand-off with match officials after Chelsea defeat  | Football News | Sky Sports

Why Huddersfield Town could lose players to international call-ups in middle of new season

There are two major international tournaments taking place in Asia and Africa in January-February, and the Terriers could end up with representatives at both of them

The Terriers are always keen to celebrate the successes of their handful of international players, but they may well lose a couple of first-teamers to call-ups midway through the upcoming season.

Despite the years given in their official names, both the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2023 Asian Cup will take place from mid-January to mid-February 2024 – and Huddersfield Town could have representatives in both tournaments.

The Asian Cup is set to start on January 12 and end on February 10, with the Africa Cup of Nations set to both start and finish a day later. Town are currently scheduled to play five Championship games in that span, although that may change depending on FA Cup commitments.

Yuta Nakayama is newly returned to action from the long-term Achilles injury that kept him out of last winter’s World Cup, but he could still earn himself a trip to Qatar if his form and fitness gets him back into the Japan squad.

Read more: Huddersfield Town wise to resist lazy stereotypes over Kyle Hudlin role

Japan are the highest-ranked nation in the tournament and will be among the favourites as they aim to add to their record four triumphs, the last of which came in 2011. They were defeated in the final by Qatar in the last edition of the tournament in 2019, and will face Indonesia, Iraq and Vietnam in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Brahima Diarra looks set to play a key role for Neil Warnock’s side this season and has at least an outside chance of taking the step up from Mali’s youth setup after reaching the semi-finals of the under-23s AFCON this summer.

The senior version of the tournament will be hosted by Ivory Coast this winter, and although qualification is still ongoing, Mali have already secured qualification by topping their group. Coincidentally, they were also knocked out of the last edition by the upcoming hosts, going out to Ivory Coast in the round of 16.

Town were represented at the last Africa Cup of Nations by Steve Mounie, who helped Benin reach the quarter-finals – but that tournament was held in the summer and did not affect Town’s Premier League campaign.

 

Neil Warnock in silent stand-off with match officials after Chelsea defeat  | Football News | Sky Sports

Other Town players who could receive call-ups include utility man Charles Ondo for Equatorial Guinea, who have already qualified, and goalkeeper Giosue Bellagambi, who has been capped at senior level by Uganda. They could pip Tanzania for a place in the finals if results go their way in the September international break.

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