AFCON 2017: How Are Sunderland's African Stars Doing?

Three Sunderland players are in Gabon for the Africa Cup of Nations. We take a look at their performances in the tournament's opening week.

No team in the league has more players than Sunderland at the tournament, which is hardly ideal for a team that's already top of the league's injury table - and those fans who travelled down to Burnley on Tuesday were rewarded with the privilege of seeing just how thin it is possible to stretch a squad before it breaks.

One of those players out is Didier Ndong, who played the full 90 minutes for hosts Gabon in their opening 1-1 draw against Guinea-Bissau. Gabon's star player, Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, put them in front only for Ndong's side to be denied by a last minute equaliser from Juary Soares.

Ndong wasn't often seen throughout the first half, but as the hosts sat back in order to try to protect their single goal lead, he contributed to the effort with several defensive headers. He tried to make a few forward runs but these were often ineffective. Sunderland fans know the sight only too well.

Ndong also played the full 90 in Gabon's next game, another 1-1 draw, this time against Burkina Faso. Aubameyang scored again, this time a penalty, to cancel out Prejuce Nakoulma's early opener. He didn't fare much better, with a largely anonymous display coupled with cheaply giving the ball away on a number of occasions.

Gabon face the heavily favoured Cameroon on Sunday knowing that a defeat would eliminate them. Should Ndong make an early return to Wearside, we'll be hoping that he can put in a better display for his club than for his country.

Wahbi Khazri, considered likely to leave Wearside very shortly, came on as a half-time substitute for Tunisia in their first match against Senegal. By then, his side were already 2-0 down thanks to goals from Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Kara Mbodji of Anderlecht.

Unfortunately, Khazri could do little to help Tunisia back into the game. They worked several good chances but wasted them, and Khazri himself was guilty of spurning a few decent chances, as well as sending a free-kick from a decent position horribly wide. There would be no further goals and Tunisia lost 2-0.

An own goal and a penalty gave Tunisia a 2-1 win over neighbours Algeria in their next match. Khazri started and played 72 minutes before being replaced by Mohamed Ali Yacoubi. Khazri never really settled into the game and mis-hit some easy passes, but he did win the penalty that put his side 2-0 up through having his heels clipped in the box.

Tunisia can secure their passage to the next round with a win over minnows Zimbabwe next Monday, and a draw would still leave them with a decent chance of progressing.

Lamine Kone is with the Ivory Coast squad, but remained on the bench for their stale 0-0 draw with Togo on Monday. The Ivorians have only played one of their group matches so far, so their group still remains well in the balance. They are next in action tonight, against the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and round off their group on Tuesday against Morocco.
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