Rangers and Celtic face fixture nightmare as AFCON and Asian calendars threaten to ravage squads for key games


The Old Firm are braced to lose a glut of globetrotting stars for crunch league and cup clashes after the winter shutdown.

Rangers are facing the prospect of losing Nigeria stars Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey for up to FIVE games for the rescheduled Africa Cup of Nations in January and February.

And Celtic could be forced to do without international aces Kyogo Furuhashi and Tom Rogic with the pair set for crucial World Cup qualifiers at the same time.

Both clubs will be looking to hit the ground running when the domestic game resumes following the break but will see their plans severely hampered by the global football calendar.

Gers could be hit the hardest with Nigeria among the favourites to win the AFCON for a fourth time and if the Super Eagles progress to the later stages they would miss the Ibrox club’s first Scottish Cup tie as well as Premiership clashes with Livingston, Ross County, with potentially the games against Hearts and Hibs.

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Across the city Kyogo’s Japan face China and Saudi Arabia on January 27 and February 1, with Rogic’s Australia taking on Vietnam and Oman on the same dates.

The Hoops face a tough trip to Tynecastle on their return from the winter break on January 26 and then host Dundee United at Parkhead three days later.

Kyogo and Rogic were both involved for their countries over the last fortnight – with the Japanese star getting the better of his fellow Celt in a 2-1 win when their nations clashed on Tuesday.

The European qualifiers finish up next month and international football goes in to cold storage until next March.

But the Asian Federation have extra dates on their calendar – which will give Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou a headache in the New Year.

The Hoops gaffer will be relieved the have come through the latest break unscathed after suffering a nightmare during the international fixtures last month.

Kyogo returned from duty in October with an injury while Callum McGregor was also struggling.

But the travelling Hoops stars all came through the last two weeks unscathed and are due to check back in to Lennoxtown today ahead of Saturday’s Premiership clash with Motherwell at Fir Park.

Striker Albian Ajeti didn’t feature for Switzerland, Carl Starfelt also failed to get game time for Sweden, while David Turnbull and Liam Scales were left on the bench for Scotland and Republic of Ireland.

Front-man Giorgos Giakoumakis was left out of the Greece squad to allow him to build his fitness at Celtic and the former VVV-Venlo hitman could be set for his first start at Fir Park at the weekend.

Rangers ace Bassey earned his first call up for Nigeria in the last fortnight where he hooked up with 40-times capped Balogun and Aribo, who made his 10th appearance as the Super Eagles recovered from a shock defeat to Central African Republic with a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture.

Balogun limped off in the second match but is expected to be fit for Saturday’s Premiership showdown with Hearts at Ibrox, while Scotland youngster Nathan Paterson and Northern Ireland stalwart Steven Davis are also set to report back fit from national service.



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Source link : https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/rangers-celtic-face-fixture-nightmare-25208366

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Publish date : 2021-10-13 20:06:55

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