NEWCASTLE United pair Papiss Demba Cisse and Cheik Tiote are both facing a major challenge to qualify for the African Cup of Nations after a mixed week on international duty.
It has been assumed in some quarters that Newcastle will have to do without the key duo for a period between January and February due to their involvement in the tournament.
However, neither Senegal or Ivory Coast are yet assured of a place in the finals.
Cisse’s Senegal drew 0-0 with Tunisia during this week’s international break, and lost 1-0 in the return fixture.
That left them second in their qualifying group with two games left, just one point ahead of third-placed Egypt.
Egypt host Senegal in the next group fixture, in November, and only the top two will progress to the finals.
Tiote’s Ivory Coast, meanwhile, find themselves outside the top two in their group after beating DR Congo 2-1 before losing to them 4-3 in the return fixture.
Ivory Coast and DR Congo have been left level on points in third and second respectively, and both will face Sierra Leone and Cameroon in the final round of fixtures.
DR Congo currently have the better head-to-head record due to having scored four away goals to Ivory Coast’s two in their respective fixtures against each other.
Should Senegal or Ivory Coast finish third in their group, they could yet be given a reprieve, as the best third-placed side will qualify for the competition.