Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cup of Nations Row

This, another in our long line of commentaries about the African Cup of Nations and its scheduling issues.

I don't have a proper grouping of articles, but please click the link on the right to see more articles pertaining to the continental tournament.

Today, Ghana coach Claude Le Roy insisted that all his European-based players are expected to join his African Cup of Nations squad on time.

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho, who could lose five key players during the tournament, has already said he wants to discuss a deal to hold onto his players until just before the tournament.

However Le Roy is adamant that all his players report for training two weeks prior to the event, as stipulated in FIFA regulations.

"You cannot prepare for the Premier League two days before it starts, they prepare six weeks before," the Frenchman pointed out.

"The players have to be here (in Accra) fourteen days before the competition; that means that all my players must be in camp by 6 January 2008 and there is no compromise at all on that.

"They can offer billions of dollars but the only thing that is important is the Black Stars."

The Black Stars coach also says European clubs and African players must get used to the fact that the dates of the African Cup of Nations finals will not change.

European clubs and some of Africa's big name players have criticised the fact that the Nations Cup finals are played in the middle of the European season.

OK. But what will the European clubs do? They pay these stars huge wages. What row will this cause with the national teams?

Black Stars' midfielder Michael Essien is the latest to ask for a rethink of the January to February scheduling of the event.

The more stars come out in favor of this, the more pressure it will heap on the African organizers to change the event's dates.

Le Roy added, "We shouldn't be worrying about what happens in London or Paris, what is important is what happens in Cairo or in Accra or in Lagos," he said.

"If it's possible to find a good date that everybody would be happy with then we must consider that, but at the moment the priority now is the Cup of Nations and the clubs must understand that."

And the debate goes on ...

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