Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, Liverpool star Mohamed Salah will be a notable absentee when the Africa group phase qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup finally kick off on Wednesday.
Salah plays for Egypt, which is on the United Kingdom travel ‘red list’, so Salah would be required to quarantine upon his return from Cairo and miss two Premier League games.
The Egyptian Football Federation also wanted Salah to play for the national team at the Tokyo Olympics, but it said Liverpool denied the request. Clubs are not obligated to release players for the men’s Olympic tournament.
Both world body FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have pleaded, without success, for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to exempt African footballers on World Cup duty.
Stars in other European countries could also be affected as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc with an African group schedule that has already been delayed three times.