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Ngamaleu returns for Cameroon as teams forced into Cup of Nations squad changes

WINGER Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu will make his return to the Cameroon selection after being named as a late replacement in their Africa Cup of Nations squad headed to the Ivory Coast later this month.

The 29-year-old Ngamaleu was one of his country’s key players when they hosted the finals two years ago but was omitted from the original squad for this tournament, which kicks off next Saturday. He also played at the 2022 World Cup finals.

He comes in at the last moment to replace uncapped teenager Regis Mughe, who has elected to stay with his French club Olympique de Marseille rather than go with the Indomitable Lions.

Cameroon is among several countries forced to make late changes as the deadline for the submission of squads passed on Wednesday.

After losing forward Amine Gouiri, Algeria will now have to do without veteran goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, who has also suffered an injury. The 37-year-old was approaching his 100th cap but is replaced by Saudi-based Mustafa Zaghba, the Algerian federation said.

Egypt has lost uncapped Ahmed Nabil Kouka, who had been in top form for African champions Al Ahly and was an exciting call-up, to a foot injury suffered in training. He is replaced by Mohanad Lashin.

Fullback Osama Galal, who suffered a knee injury, was replaced on Wednesday by Yasser Ibrahim, whose original omission from the squad had been widely criticised by pundits in Egypt.

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Tunisia has allowed Mortadha Ben Ouanes to withdraw for what the federation said were family reasons and replaced the Turkish-based striker with Seifeddine Jaziri. The 30-year-old Jaziri was Tunisia’s lead attacker at the last Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon two years ago.

Mauritania goalkeeper Babacar Diop underwent surgery on Wednesday after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in training in Tunisia, where they are preparing for the tournament. A replacement has yet to be announced.

The 24 participating countries had until Wednesday to name their squads, which can be a maximum of 27 players but also have until kickoff in their first game to replace injured players, but only after producing medical evidence.