On the same day that he learned he won't be playing in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, Anatole Abang also learned the identity of the man he'll most need to impress once he makes his way back to Denmark.
Hobro IK - to whom Abang is on loan until the end of the current season - has announced Thomas Thomasberg will guide the team's bid for promotion to the Danish Superliga.
Relegated from Denmark's top flight last season, Hobro bounced back to lead the Danish First Division into the winter break. But top of the table (on goal difference, after an alarming collapse in form in November) wasn't enough for Ove Pedersen to keep his job as Hobro head coach.
Thomasberg has reportedly been signed up for at least the next 18 months, suggesting he will be the man to lead Hobro's 2017-18 campaign to either remain in the top flight (if promotion is won) or build a squad capable of getting out of the second tier. The 42-year-old is a veteran of Danish pro soccer as both player and coach.
The second half of the current season doesn't get started until March, so Thomasberg has a lot of time to get acquainted with his squad and, if necessary, find new recruits. The team is expected to start training on January 8, with the first winter-break friendly scheduled for January 19.
For Abang, 2017 was always going to be an important year. He is on loan to Hobro from the New York Red Bulls, where he fell out of favor with head coach Jesse Marsch despite an encouraging rookie season in MLS. As he lost opportunity with RBNY, he gained it with the Cameroon men's national team: head coach Hugo Broos made Abang a regular call-up in 2016, handing the forward six caps including time in World Cup qualifying.
But Broos drew criticism for his faith in a player who had been shipped out of MLS to the Danish second tier, and perhaps that influenced the coach's decision to leave Abang out of the 23-man squad selected to represent Cameroon at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Rather than playing for his national team this month, Abang is now looking at a return to Denmark to impress a new club coach. He was a regular starter under Pedersen, scoring three goals in 10 league appearances for Hobro. But the 20-year-old's last goal for his club was in October, and his last appearance saw him sent off during a 5-0 loss to Fremad Amager.
Abang starts 2017 with a little work to do to ensure he keeps his career on track.