Loading...
Loading Live Scoring...
*All times CAT (GMT+2)

Football | Afcon

Afcon poses problems for clubs



Managers' complaints across Europe as players jet off for the African Nations Cup every two years have become the norm in soccer in recent years.

This time, the problem has been exacerbated by the change in staging the tournament from even to odd years, meaning there have been just 12 months between finals.

This year's tournament in South Africa, which kicks off on Saturday, features 368 players from clubs in 55 countries, showing how widely dispersed exported African players are.

There are 27 European countries represented, including Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, and clubs from Brazil, China, Japan and the United States.

The French league traditionally provides the most players, this time a total of 50, all but 15 of them from Ligue 1 clubs, who will miss key matches for the three-week tournament.

There are 15 players from the Premier League in England, 14 from the top flight in Portugal, 10 from La Liga in Spain and six from Serie A in Italy.

Fifa rules stipulate players had to be released by their clubs to prepare 14 days ahead of the competition.

Struggling French club AJ Ajaccio are paying a heavy price, losing five regulars to the Nations Cup at a time when they are attempting to stay out of the Ligue 1 relegation zone.

"It is not easy especially when you face a difficult fixture list without them," assistant coach Stephane Paganelli told the sports daily L'Equipe.

Fellow strugglers Stade Brest have lost three of their usual back four and have already moved to sign a replacement.

Herita Ilunga is a Democratic Republic of Congo international but has not been picked for the Nations Cup.

Among the high-profile players who have chosen their club over country is former South Africa captain Steven Pienaar who retired from international football last September.

Cape Verde Islands defender Ricardo also faced a difficult choice.

His national team make their debut at the Nations Cup finals after unexpected qualification but the 32-year-old centre back's club Pacos de Ferreira find themselves in unusual territory among the front-runners in the Portuguese league.

Ricardo has chosen to stay with his club for vital games over the next week as they seek a place in European club competition next season.

While his compatriots from the tiny island archipelago meet hosts South Africa in the opening game of the Nations Cup, Ricardo will be playing away at champions FC Porto.



Comments

More expert analysis and opinion from Sport24
The opinions expressed by Sport24 experts and bloggers are theirs alone, and do not necessarily represent those of SuperSport

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Other Live Streaming

Event Streaming

Channel Streaming

Sports Talk



Dr Errol Sweeney
Armchair refs make me sick
There’s a great expression by Clint Eastwood in one of his “Dirty Harry” movies that epitomises...

Segun Odegbami
Worries for Enrique, Mourinho and Oliseh
Three international coaches have been on my mind this week. The first is Luis Enrique.

Neil Tovey
Rakhale – kasi star on the rise
Thabo Rakhale has come on in leaps and bounds as a player since he debuted for Sivutsa Stars during...

Emeka Enyadike
All eyes on Coutinho
Phillippe Coutinho produced one of the standout moments of the opening week of the Premier League.

Calvin Emeka Onwuka
De Gea won't determine United's season
I watched Manchester United’s EPL match at a snow bound White Hart Lane in January 2013.

Sunday Oliseh
EPL will be a heated battle
Many thought it would be business as usual for Chelsea as they took on Arsenal at the Wembley...