Friday, January 18, 2013

Premier League Quality Lacking in Afcon

On the eve of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, former Leeds United and South Africa captain, Lucas Radebe, told a national newspaper about his fears for the tournament after another low turnout from Premier League players.

The tournament, which kicked off in South Africa on Saturday, is Africa’s major international football event and is widely anticipated to be an exciting contest this winter. Yet poor scheduling, according to Radebe, is keeping top-flight players away from the competition as they choose to represent their club sides instead.

“The only way to change it is to bring the competition in line with the European leagues but that is something the organisers don’t want to do,” Radebe told The Independent.

“But now [players] are suffering because clubs know they will lose them for more than a month in the middle of the season and can be reluctant to let them leave.”

Indeed, Radebe is absolutely correct in his assertion that Afcon players have missed out despite the standard of football in Africa growing to unprecedented levels. For while African players now litter Europe’s major leagues the development of international football on the continent is still way below its potential.

Players cannot or do not want to play in a tournament that cuts into their season. In 2011, there were 37 internationals from Africa in the Premier League, yet a year later just 13 attended the Africa Cup of Nations; that is over half of the 28 that played in 2006, despite six further years of development.

This year will see 15 Premier League players in the competition plus a good number of others from around Europe. Yet there is real concern from Premier League betting fans that if players – such as Steven Pienaar of South Africa and Morocco’s Marouane Chamakh – continue to stay away, then the tournament will fall into neglect within the next decade.

Afcon organisers have already switched the biannual event to odd years in order to avoid clashing with World Cups– a decision that should progress to playing in the summer months if they are to make this tournament available to all players.

Interested in the Afcon? Pay a visit to the African Cup of Nations website on Betfair for the latest odds, picks, and news for the tournament:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lennon boosts midfield ahead of Champions League ties

Celtic boss Neil Lennon already appears to be preparing for the future after the club agreed a deal with Central Coast Mariners for young midfielder Tom Rogic.

Rogic, 20, has attracted much interest from British clubs this January transfer window after making his international debut in 2012. The Australian has developed into a key player for A-League team Central Coast, who topped the 2011/12 table before falling in the playoffs.

According to reports in Australia and the UK, the Mariners have confirmed a deal has been reached between the two clubs – thought to be in the region of £400,000.

“Central Coast Mariners FC wish to officially advise that terms have been agreed for the transfer of Tomas Rogic to Celtic FC,” a club statement read.

“Rogic will now travel to Glasgow from Spain with the Bhoys, and will discuss personal terms with the Scottish giants over the coming days.”

Togic will join up with the squad this week and could be in line for a place in the first XI come the
weekend – where the Hoops face Hearts at home in the league. For many fans in the betting world, it is a progressive move that proves Lennon is already thinking about the future of this team, which many have claimed has peaked now it’s reached the Champions League last 16.

Some of Celtic’s big-name players, such as Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper, are expected to leave in the summer and Lennon here has shown his dedication to replacing that talent once it leaves Scottish shores.

He beat off interest from QPR and Reading for the 20-year-old Togic and, although not the finished article yet, this midfielder playmaker should be a Celtic Park favourite by next season.

Don’t forget to check out the Betfair FA cup  site for all the latest betting news ahead of the fourth round next weekend. There will also be plenty of interviews, odds, tips and expert opinion – check it all out here: