Anatole Abang has been a near-constant presence in Cameroon men's national team squads since head coach Hugo Broos was appointed in February, 2016. But the 20-year-old will watch the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations as a spectator, having been left out of the Indomitable Lions' 23-man roster for the tournament.
A young forward loaned out (by the New York Red Bulls) to a second-tier Danish team (Hobro IK) isn't the usual profile for a regular player for a national team that expects to be among the best in Africa, and indeed the world. But Broos clearly likes something about Abang, who has won all six of his Cameroon caps to date (and scored his first goal for his country) on the Belgian coach's watch.
Broos has had a turbulent build-up to AFCON 2017. Since naming his 35-man preliminary squad, the coach's plans have been hampered by a multitude of player withdrawals. In late December, it was revealed that seven players had advised they did not wish to be selected for the January tournament (all are attached to clubs in Europe; AFCON conflicts with the league schedules of most European clubs). Broos had suggested he might seek to bring sanctions against at least some of the absentees (they don't all necessarily have the same reasons for wanting to skip AFCON), but his threats did not prevent further withdrawals from the squad.
Eric Choupo-Moting announced he did not want to play at AFCON, reportedly citing dissatisfaction with the way he has been managed by Broos up to this point. Franck Kom was reported to have checked himself out of the team hotel on the eve of the final squad announcement, fearing administrative issues might jeopardize his contract with his club.
All told, it would seem Broos had just 26 players from which to choose his final 23 for the tournament. The three men left out of Cameroon's AFCON squad are Henri Bedimo (reported to have failed to recover fitness in time for the competition), Aurelien Chedjou (abruptly released by Galatasaray at the end of 2016), and Anatole Abang.
All three are reported to be with the current Cameroon squad, and perhaps might be regarded as on stand-by in case injury forces further adjustment to the roster.
The Indomitable Lions will play friendlies against Democratic Republic of Congo (on January 5) and Zimbabwe (on January 10). The team's AFCON 2017 starts on January 14 against Burkina Faso. It then rounds out its group stage with matches against Guinea-Bissau on January 18, and host nation Gabon on January 22.
Former RBNY player Ambroise Oyongo is in Broos's selection for the tournament