Something that comes up every other year is the debate that surrounds the African Cup of Nations and the departure of key players from across Europe to the tournament which can leave their clubs without the player from the 21st of January at the latest until the 12 February, not to mention training camps and the potential injury to the players.
It has been a problem for clubs like Chelsea for a number of years now, the Blues having to contend with the loss of Kalou, Drogba, Essien and Mikel, yet actually moving the tournament is something that is talked about but never actually done. The tournament has been moved to odd years from 2013 so not to clash with the World Cup years, so clubs now have to face players going not just this year but next year to boot, and with more and more players being lost to the tournament, perhaps now is the time where something will actually be done and the tournament moved.
There are 14 top Premier League players alone who will be jetting off to the ACON in the coming days, and at such a pivotal time in the season where the strength and depth of a squad matters more and more, not to mention injuries, fatigue and suspensions after the busy festive period of fixtures, teams simply cannot afford to manage without their players for an extended period of time. It shocks and amazes me that the ACON has never actually been moved, and despite managers highlighting the issue time and time again, it always seems to die down after the tournament until it comes around again. Platini has stated that he wants the cup to be held in the summer from 2016, yet it is debatable if this will actually happen, yet he said this in 2008, and so far, shockingly, nothing has actually been done to accommodate this. Not to mention the fact that in the summer months, many of the African Nations are in their wet season and could not host the tournament – yet with most of the players now living and playing in Europe, would this be such a problem?
Year after year the same problem arises, and nothing seems to be done about it – almost like being stuck in a rut – yet it is simply not fair to deprive the clubs of players who can make the difference to their season, and it is those clubs who pay the wages of the players, not their country. It is understandable that players are proud to represent their nation and by no means is this a criticism of the tournament as a whole, merely the time it is held. It seems that the issue will come to a head over the next couple of years with back to back tournaments, and should a compromise or solution be reached, most managers across Europe will breathe a sigh of relief!
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