Sunday Jan 19, 2020. 12:00
Nigerian great Finidi George says European clubs will be the ones to suffer following the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) decision to reschedule the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
CAF announced earlier this week that the next edition of the AFCON will be played in January-February next year, bringing it back into direct conflict with the European club season.
Such an issue seemed to be a thing of the past after the last AFCON in 2019 was held in June-July, but the fears of harsh weather in Cameroon has moved CAF to shift the continental showpiece back to the beginning of the year.
George, a winner of the 1994 AFCON with Nigeria’s Super Eagles, believes the decision will be a setback for European clubs which have African players on their rosters.
“It’s good but I think it’s going to obstruct the European calendar a bit,” George told Goal.
“We had that before and we had lots of complaints and now they are going back to the former arrangement which is certainly not good news for European teams.
“I don’t know how they will take that because we have a lot of African players in Europe and if most of them will leave for [the] Nations Cup – that will create some problems. However, they should be able to figure it out.
“For instance, a team like Liverpool will complain because their star players [Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita] would be unavailable to prosecute key matches.
“These players are getting well paid and if they are leaving in January when most clubs are struggling or trying to win a league. That will be a problem.”