5 MLS players to feature at 2021 Africa Cup of Nations

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations will take place in Cameroon from Jan. 9 to Feb. 6, with five MLS players representing their countries in this year's international tournament.

Along with five faces currently in MLS, striker Kei Kamara, the league's fifth all-time scorer who's now playing in Finland, will compete for Sierra Leone.

Here's a breakdown of the rest.

  • Ghana
  • Group C
  • vs. MAR (Jan. 10); vs. GAB (Jan. 14); vs. COM (Jan. 18)

Along with being the anchor of the Columbus Crew's defense, Mensah is also a longtime stalwart for Ghana, racking up 68 senior caps since his 2009 debut. He has extensive experience playing in the AFCON, playing every minute of Ghana's campaign in 2015 that saw them reach the final before falling in penalty kicks to the Ivory Coast.

The 31-year-old is one of the best center back in MLS, starting at least 23 games and playing over 2,000 minutes during each of his five seasons since joining the Crew in 2017, helping Columbus to the MLS Cup 2020 title.

  • Zimbabwe
  • Group B
  • vs. SEN (Jan. 10); vs. MWI (Jan. 14); vs. GUI (Jan. 18)

The Houston Dynamo FC center back will suit up for Zimbabwe, which has capped him 32 times since 2014. Hadebe has four international goals and has also featured in the AFCON before, playing in all three group stage matches in 2019. He was on Zimbabwe's roster for the 2017 tournament but didn't make an appearance.

Hadebe, 26, is coming off his debut MLS season with Houston where he started all 17 of his appearances after signing in June as a Designated Player from Yeni Malatyaspor in Turkey’s Süper Lig.

  • Cameroon
  • Group A
  • vs. BFA (Jan. 9); vs. ETH (Jan. 13); vs. CPV (Jan. 17)

A fan favorite for the Seattle Sounders, Nouhou is on the roster for host nation Cameroon, where the defender will hope to add to his six senior caps for The Indomitable Lions.

Initially breaking in with the Sounders in 2017, Nouhou has become a regular for the Rave Green, racking up 110 first-team appearances and getting named as an MLS All-Star for the first time in 2021. The 24-year-old can play left back and center back.

  • Cameroon
  • Group A
  • vs. BFA (Jan. 9); vs. ETH (Jan. 13); vs. CPV (Jan. 17)

One of two representatives from the Philadelphia Union, Mbazio will be joining Cameroon in Group A. The right back has made eight senior-team appearances since 2020.

The 24-year-old broke through as a regular starter for Jim Curtin's side this season, starting 28 of his 30 appearances while dishing out four assists across 2,489 minutes.

  • Cape Verde
  • Group A
  • vs. ETH (Jan. 9); vs. BFA (Jan. 13); at CMR (Jan. 17)

Philadelphia's other representative will be the 28-year-old Monteiro, who has 16 senior caps for Cape Verde since debuting in 2016 during AFCON qualifiers. He has one international goal to his name, scoring in a 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Liberia.

The Designated Player has been a rock for Philadelphia since coming to MLS in 2019, putting up nine goals and 21 assists across 75 games (70 starts).