When the Bundesliga restarts after the winter break, the Africa and Asian Cups start in Ivory Coast and Qatar. Many first division teams have to do without top performers. Leaders Bayer Leverkusen are being hit particularly hard – especially since a top player was seriously injured during tournament preparation. The most important questions and answers about the two continental tournaments:

When and where will the two tournaments take place?

The two continental tournaments take place almost simultaneously from mid-January to mid-February. The opening game of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast will kick off on January 13th and the final will take place on February 11th. The Asian Championship in Qatar runs from January 12th to February 10th.

Why are the championships being played in the middle of the European club season?

The Asian Championship was actually supposed to take place in China in the summer of 2023, but was then canceled due to the consequences of the corona pandemic. Qatar stepped in at short notice. Because it is too hot in the desert state in summer for such a tournament – see the 2022 World Cup – it will now be played in winter. There were also meteorological reasons for the date in January for the Africa Cup: the tournament was actually planned for the summer of 2023; However, it is the rainy season in Ivory Coast, which is why the European winter was avoided.

How many players from German leagues are there?

A total of 32 footballers who are active in Germany were assigned to the tournaments: 20 at the Africa Cup, twelve in Asia. These include Bundesliga stars such as Bayern Munich’s central defender Minjae Kim (South Korea) or Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy (Guinea), but also second division professionals and even an amateur footballer: Stanley Ratifo from the Baden-Württemberg upper division club 1. CfR Pforzheim has made it into the Mozambique squad done.

Surprisingly, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the experienced FC Bayern striker and Cameroon international, was not nominated. Bayer Leverkusen top scorer Victor Boniface was injured while playing for the Nigerian national team and will be out of the tournament at short notice.

Could the dismissals have an impact on the title fight in the Bundesliga?

That is not out of the question, as the top German teams have to do without a number of professionals. While serial champion Bayern Kim and fellow defender Noussair Mazraoui (Morocco) were nominated, league leaders Leverkusen have to replace four professionals in the nominated and now injured Boniface (Nigeria), Odilon Kossounou (Ivory Coast), Edmond Tapsoba (Burkina Faso) and Amine Adli (Morocco). . Boniface is expected to be unavailable until April due to a muscle and tendon injury in the right adductor area.

VfB Stuttgart is missing top scorer Guirassy (Guinea), who had already scored 19 competitive goals in the first half of the season. The 27-year-old injured his thigh in the test against Nigeria – but how serious is still unclear. The secondments of Hiroki Ito (Japan) and Silas (DR Congo) could also have an impact on VfB, and Woo-yeong Jeong is also seconded to South Korea. Two players each were nominated from RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, while Eintracht Frankfurt has to send three professionals to the Africa Cup.

And what do the coaches of the affected clubs say about this?

Of course they are not happy. Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel described the obligation to leave the team in the middle of the season as “always extremely unfortunate.” Leverkusen club boss Fernando Carro demanded in “Bild am Sonntag” that the scheduling of the two continental tournaments be reconsidered in the future and hopes for an agreement between the European club association ECA and the world association FIFA. Coach Xabi Alonso said: “I’m not crying. I’m not a victim. We have enough players.”

Leverkusen’s sports director Simon Rolfes also said that Bayer had already taken the two tournaments in Asia and Africa into account when making up the squad in the summer. Stuttgart coach Sebastian Hoeneß was pragmatic: “Such situations always offer opportunities – especially for our boys from below.”

Who are the favorites and stars of the two tournaments?

At the Africa Cup, some strikers could rise to the fore. Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah wants to win the title with Egypt after failing in the finals in 2017 and 2022 – two years ago he had to watch his former teammate and then Bayern professional Sadio Mané celebrate with Senegal. In the election for Africa’s Footballer of the Year, Salah and Mané were recently beaten out by Victor Osimhen – the Napoli striker now also wants to surprise Nigeria. In addition to defending champion Senegal and final opponent Egypt, the favorites also include World Cup semi-finalist Morocco with its stars Hakim Ziyech (Galatasaray Istanbul) and Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain).

There are two coaches in particular in focus at the Asian tournament. Jürgen Klinsmann is supposed to lead the South Koreans around Bayern’s Kim and veteran striker Heung-min Son from Tottenham Hotspur to success – South Korea has been waiting for this title for 64 years. The former German international striker and head of selection at the 2006 “Summer Fairy Tale” recently announced that he recognized the hunger for success in the eyes of his players. Besides Klinsmann, Roberto Mancini is the most prominent coach of the tournament: The Italian unexpectedly left the national team of his home country last summer, went from being a European Championship hero to a traitor in Italy and was hired in Saudi Arabia.