The start of a new decade is a romantic time for many, bringing forth hopes of renewal, rebirth and change. Optimism - that hindrance could be transformed into release, that obstacle could be overcome by opportunity and that historical grievance could be replaced with agreement - reigns supreme in the minds of millions around the world.
The New Year brings hope to many, though not this year to the minds of European football's top club coaches one would imagine. This is because, within 10 days of the recycling of the calendar, a familiar recurring nightmare has revealed itself to a young 2010 to dispel any remaining celebratory zeal - namely the Africa Cup of Nations.
It is not so much the tournament itself which causes despair to those charged with capturing glory for their clubs, more the timing of the event and the logistical problems it presents.
The tournament - which starts on January 10 in Angola - is traditionally played during January and February in a bid to avoid the impossible heat or heavy rain of the continent at other times of the year; so say the Confederation of African Football (CAF). A convenient time for those participating but highly inconvenient if, like most European fixture lists allude to, the fight for domestic honors moves into a crucial phase.
To make things worse, the Nations Cup has long since been a competition which involves players known only to local audiences, Africa currently boasts some of the finest footballers to be found on the planet, most of whom will be taking part at this year's edition in Angola. Which leaves European coaches with a problem - how do you replace the irreplaceable?
Consider finding fill-ins for the following first eleven: Didier Drogba (Chelsea / Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto'o (Inter Milan / Cameroon), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg / Nigeria), Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan / Ghana), Yaya Toure (Barcelona / Ivory Coast), Seydou Keita (Barcelona / Mali), Alexandre Song (Arsenal / Cameroon), Joseph Yobo (Everton, Nigeria), Kolo Toure (Manchester City, Ivory Coast), Taye Taiwo (Marseilles / Nigeria), Carlos Kameni (Espanyol / Cameroon).
Coaches, in an seemingly biennial ritual, line up to moan and whine about how the tournament depletes their resources and hampers progress. The release of the top names to play for their country is also a subject that incurs much negotiation and consternation, Inter's fight to delay Eto'o flying out to join Cameroon being a recent example.
But why should the Africa Cup of Nations be treated in any different way to other confederation tournaments? Coaches are well aware of the nationality - and commitment - of the players they sign, so what right do they have to complain about an athlete wanting to represent his country?
Surely, the Nations Cup and the participation of the teams and players who have qualified should be respected in the same way as those wishes of soccer superstars who participate in the European and South American version of the event.
Whether the tournament should be played in the same year as the inaugural "African World Cup" - where the potential for top players to be overworked seems inescapable - is another matter ...
the coaches have no other choice than allowing them go and weep...they are africans and love their country and the national team they too have no other choice than to show patriotism....
The African cup of nations shd be respected
The Irony here is that the Cup of Nations is by far the biggest stage where the top European clubs notice and recruit African talent!
Africans have been known to always receive the worst deal when it comes to international negotiations.
I think we are considered inferior. Why? because we are Africans and not expected to know any better.
Actually i would be surprised to see this post up; so, surprise me yet...
Making a lot of money by featuring African players in their so called European league is fantastic but allowing African Players to serve their Fathers' land is hard. Well it is unfortunate to know that Europeans have failed many times to acknowledge that the era of colonialism had passed. If it easy to figure out good players like the ones from Africa in their so called Europe, Why do they go to africa for players.
l think Ghana will win the African Cup of Nations Cup for the 5th time.
Alas you are surprised my friend... you are surprised...
Whats the purpose of this write up? I struggle to understand what it was supposed to achieve... tsk tsk CNN. you can do better
inferiority is in the mind. let the players speak up bicos their coaches wont bite
If it hurts these clubs so much, they should consider taking a break
I agree with the writter Ben Whatt. the coaches of european leagues must respect African players to represent their countries.
this is colonialism coming up again. African have to take care now. Europe has always downplay black people. White soccer coaches dont respect the talent african players have.
its a shame. I hope everything work out.
thanks Ben, you are a good presenter.
Colonialism must stop in everyway whether be it in soccer, trade or any international deal.
Human dignity is important to be respect whether you are white, black or brown person.
thanks. Bryan Michael.
The fact that this is an issue shows that international football still has a long way to go, especially where Africa is concerned.
Dont sign African players and there will be no problem.
Suggestion.... Mr author... please write a convincing article to ask the European Clubs to change their times to accommodate the Africans. As it is your article is sooo much biased towards Europe. Why must we not enjoy watching sons of our own soil at a time convenient to us? You are so hard to believe. I am pained big time. I know Mr. Editor is not biased. In shona we say Mukosho Unedova... meaning... just once in two years ....
I am very amazed the best and the most expensive african footballer Micheal Essein not mention, his exploit for Chelsea, cannot be measured. The arrogancy with which these European coaches treat the Africa Cup of nation is an insult which must not be tolerated. Power is changing hands and they must know by 2024 going, when we africans, begin to place value on our products such as Timber, gold, Uranium, diamonds, oil, the sun where we will be exporting energy to the rest of the world, our very best will stay in our domestic, league and we will treat the european league with the same measure it has treated us, they better start behaving. long live CAF, Long Live Michel Platini who is trying for African football, and long live Mr Wenger.
We are treated inferior not because we are, but because we accept that position.. We, everyone of us, has the opportunity to prove them wrong but what do we do? Accept what is dished out. Then we should stop that now by standing up immediately. 'The urgency of now'.
But didn't the article say that Africa has some of the finest or the fines players on the planet? So tell me fellow Africans, how does that translate to inferior?
Go represent your country and continent and be proud.
There is no reason why the African nations cup can not become one of the most decoarated prizes in world football. The sheduling is a shame but also politics which has affected African football for years. There is a envy towards the power and money in european football and i see it as nothing else but a distraction to the modern day western calendar. Football is a global market which should be operated on a global basis
classic case of rich western countries enjoying the resources of poor 3rd word countries & not wanting to share. even in football this happens..... pure greed....
The timing is poor, there is no doubt about that, considering the football calendar. But considering the weather conditions, maybe it is understandable.
The right to host the tournament should be respected. However unlike other major cup tournaments that are held every 4 years, Cup of Nations is held every 2 years and this is where the real jest of the problem lies.
So Marie (above), you are wrong and probably don't know much about football and in fact the Africans actually have a far better deal than you expect when it comes to this. Your post is ridiculous.
Like it or not, this is RACISM at play. Too bad Ben Wyatt and CNN. Why can't you guys get over it and try to celebrate Africa? When you cover South Africa 2010, you are always on news that wll scare people into believing that Africans can't do it. Even when you interview people, it's always about if Africans can host it and NEVER about Africans being able to host the best ever. Boost our morale and please stop trying to be-little us.
Instead of showing the beautiful parts of South Africa, you are always pre-occupied with showing the dark and ugly sides, which in truth is what people like you only want to see about Africa. If it was Europe, would you have EVER asked if it was proper to host both the European and world cup in the same year? Such a shame.
Celebrate Africans and encourage our progress. Truth is that you (and the coaches alike) are only concerned about the impact of the absence (or fatique) of top African footballers on the various leagues they play in and not on the players themselves. You only care about Africa when it benefits you and never when it benefits Africa.. Stop the hate.. Africans are here to stay and rule.. Obama is already at the very top... Get over it !!!
African cup will be able to show case lots of good players we have in Africa. I believe it is the chance of my favourite club Liverpool to get some new players from Africa, we can see the much changes they have brought to clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, Man city.
People respect those who respect themselves .
There is no better time than January/february to hold the African Cup of Nations. Changing the timing of the competition may entirely conflict with the participation of many African countries due to differing climatic and weather conditions on the continent. We need all countries to be in a position to host the tournament and participate in it. We equally need our African stars in European Leagues to be present. Africa always gets a raw deal when decisions of this nature are to be made. Why?
It is amazing how these coaches moan about this tournament, but have no issues with releasing European players for the world cup qualifiers or even international friendlies! A player's first comitment should be to his country, then to his club. FIFA should make this clear. No room for discussion.
We africans shd be left to our own decisions and notions. I guess this will keep on making us africans,and different 4rm d rest of d world.
My question is " Why is it always that when it comes to African Cup of Nations, there are issues?" Some of the Europeans even without respect reached to the extend of asking the timing of the tournament to be cahnge.
Please do respect Africans as you reapect others. And I am pleading to FIFA to do punish those clubs delaying players in joining their Country team mates in time
I agree that the African Cup of Nations should be respected, but I also think it is ludicrous to use the weather as an excuse to host it in January.
The Copa América has been held in June or July since 1916, also in the southern hemisphere.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fact that some of these players will be playing two big tournaments this year, while Copa América and European Championship are held on alternate years to the World Cup. The CAF need to rethink their stance on these issues.
i think this is the chance for those who have been complaining about foreign players to come out of the shadow and prove them selves. THIS IS IT.
nothing is surprising here, the players should go serve their countries.
they are not eupean or american we are africans we need to stand for ours countries in anyway; africa first before others. this shoud not even be part of discussion. i think any partiot players will go to show his love of his country. the coaches have nothing to sa here .when it came to looses in this case others should loose but not african. the colonisation is over , we dont need them and we never need them. they think they can do all with african that over. they minimize africa all time and at all level , that over. they hant any african wwho they think they could make money and try to separate him to his own country that should end. we dont even need their spectacle in african. like alpha blondy siad" nous ne voulons plus de vous" which mean we no longuer need nous. he also said " allez- vous en de chez nou" which means " get out of our home land"
Well, i think the coaches should understand that the African Cup of Nation is a very important tournament for Africans as the European tournament is to them so they should shut up and give us a break. Any coach who does not release his players must be banned by FIFA.
A very noble comment from a deligent analyst. Kudos Wyatt, i couldn't have agreed with you more. Some sort of respect should be given to African players just like other players of different nationality in respect to joining their compatriots for tournaments like 'the CAN.' In as much as i have great respect for 'the special one' he had no right whatsoever to have prevented Eto'o from joining his playmates. This has nothing to do with sports methodogy he learnt. Let the European coaches give African players a break. They should put up or shut up! They better recorgnize the terain they come from before they engage their services.
What a man can do more than making his country proud by plying heart and soul for his county!! Everybody is born and ready to die for their country – that is the spirit of games and sports.
Eto'o, Drogba, Esien ... all must be allowed to go and paly with respect – no need for money loving coaches of european clubs!!
Don't they love their contries?
A very noble comment from a deligent analyst. Kudos Wyatt, i couldn't have agreed with you more. Some sort of respect should be given to African players just like other players of different nationality in respect to joining their compatriots for tournaments like 'the CAN.' In as much as i have great respect for 'the special one' he had no right whatsoever to have prevented Eto'o from joining his playmates. This has nothing to do with sports methodogy he learnt. Let the European coaches give African players a break. They should put up or shut up! They better recognize the terrain they come from before they engage their services.
Bravoo!!!!!! to all my African countries that made it to the Nation's cup. one big regret I have is the absence of my country (Liberia). my pray and hope for my continent is that one day football will improve, and the tournament realize it goal and objective this 2010 nation's cup.
What if it were held every year?! What would the coaches say?
Let Africa showcase its talent and develop its football. African footballers need the exposure and cash that European leagues provide while the European leagues benefit from their skills. The European coaches should buy tickets and watch the ACN. As for the author of the article: Please write an better article that focuses on how to reduce racist taunts that African players have to endure during their club games in Europe: Samuel Eto can provide strong insights!
It is only the European countries, especially England that complains about this Tournament, because of the heavy schedule of the EPL. I think that during htis period, when the weather is so cold, because of winter, the European league should be on recess. Incidentally this is best season in Africa to play a tournament, as there is less heat and rainfall.
Let the Europeans adjust, because they cannot do away with the African Talents. It is all good for the development of World Soccer.
Actually i can understand the concern of the european clubs, i think african cup of nations can be schedule during euro foot ball break, it will enhance the competition and make african countries develope more infrastrutures like covered stadia to avoid rain disrupting the game.
As low as the level of the competition could be, it is quite insulting for the Africans to see every year coaches moan, complain and even hinder their african player commitment to that competition. When most of the children live with less than 1 meal a day, these coaches should be reminded that seeing Drogba, Eto'o, Essien and all those stars in one competion over a month suffice for a child to have the only life gift-that he can afford. In my country Ivory Coast for example the national team is the only symbol of national unity to which the people can cling to and when our stars are coming the nation can dream. Do those coaches realise that no money can buy the dream of a child? Again the endless debate on values vs profit, should their be opposed?
I see no reason why the European coaches should complain over players going to represent their countries in the African nations cup, when this is where they discovered most of these players from, FIFA is not being fair; Because they are failing to accord the deserved respect to their African affiliate body. By not taking a firm stand on this issue. I believe the mouthy European coaches will shut up and respect the laid down rules if eventually there are any on issues like this.
CAN2010 would be the BOMB! cos itz going to bring about galaxy of African stars all across Europe. You can imagine the likes of Didi Drogba,Mikel OBi,Mikel Essien,Sammy Eto et al...
That's just racism aimed at the European clubs (because your European your thinking this), the fact that this is Africa's tournament with African players is irrelevant! it's the timing and the way it affects the players payers, the clubs. This is becoming more of an issue due to the amount of quality players now coming in to the leagues from Africa.
I happen to agree that when the clubs sign African players they know there is a chance or certainty that the players will be missing for the duration of the tournament and they should arrange their pay structure to account for this, arrange cover for when you know they are not going to be around or don't sign them in the first place.
Coaches moaning about anything other than the tournaments timing is wrong and again, most would have known when they signed the players.
All players should be allowed to play for their countries without hindrance if their country calls. Africa is only an issue due to the tournament timing, we have the same problem with managers in England who don't want players released for International friendlies even though the League takes a break for the week in question.
(doesn't bother me as my League 1 team doesn't have to release anyone)
sure, they all do have a role to play for their clubs side but the seemly question is which one should come first, service to the fatherland or your club side?
I feel very soon this will begin to affect the African players. Why because the European clubs will be having double mind in signing any african player remembering that every 2 years they stand the change of loosing for the Nations cup in January which is the heat of their league.
I am an African a Nigerian to be precise. I respect the Nations Cup tournament, but my concern is our big brothers future career in Europe.
Lets be wise.
Oriaku I disagree with you, you shouldn't make African players have any complex, what is good for the goose is good for the gender. Why do European and South Americans get released to play friendlies or tourneys for their nations and the coaches only complain when we ask for ours. I am a Nigerian like you who studied in France and now live in Spain - Fifa take proper action and respect our right as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A very noble comment from a deligent analyst. Kudos Wyatt, i couldn't have agreed with you more. Some sort of respect should be given to African players just like other players of different nationality in respect to joining their compatriots for tournaments like 'the CAN.' In as much as i have great respect for 'the special one' he had no right whatsoever to have prevented Eto'o from joining his playmates. This has nothing to do with sports methodology he learnt. Let the European coaches give African players a break. They should put up or shut up! They better recognize the terrain they come from before they engage their services.
"Charity begins at home" what choices do they have back in Africa if their clubs decided not to renew their contracts or injured why playing for their Africa countries. European clubs actually thinks they are doing Africa players a favour by given them a contract. May be when Africa have a standard football league,paying and also treating the Africa homebase players right then, we can start to protest against lack of respect from European clubs.
I think CAF should look at this issue very well, these players are getting huge salaries from these clubs. If they are not there when it matters most then what's the important of paying such amount of money to secure thier services.
Besides, many African countries depends solely on these foreign based players to prosecute the Nation's cup, this is as a result of knowledge and exposure acquired through these clubs abroad. CAF please consider their huge investment on these players and do something.
Hallo readers ,the treatment of africans by the white guys started far back may be b4 the 18centuries.You cant believe that up till this day ,this stupid,selfcentered,malicious,arrogant,racist etc is still flowing from one whitegeneration to the other. .Mr wenger good bless you. Remember the Great Joe loius againts max.m. Africans are and would always be great athletes.Please the bible should be respeted.
Leave the african players to bring honour to their countries. African flags must be lifted up high thru the african cup of nations. Why would the coaches be selfcentred like that?. they are only thinking of the clubs winning not considering they saw the talents of these players from the african cup on nations. if it wasn't for the African cup they would not have not known these players. Respect our african boys, no to victimisation and release them to present their countries.
Plizzzzzzz, give we africans a break. We nid to enjoy the labours of our hands anytime,dont push us coz we cud go further. Viva Africa cup of nations, Viva Sepp Blatter,Viva Zambia and Viva Chelsea.Matter of fact Viva VuVuzela........2010.
You mentioned names of top players without the name of the best midfielder in the world, Michael Essien. How could an expert in the game make an unforgivable mistake!come on!
The most important thing for critics of the timing of the African Nations Cup is to come up with solutions as to the most appropriate time it should be held. Before doing that however, they should bear in mind the climatic factors to see whether the tournament can be held smoothly without disruptions at any other time. It is easy to criticize but kind of tough to come up with real solutions. Until such a time,the tournament is going to be held in Jan-Feb which seems to be the ideal time at the present.
The coaches and the clubs have no choice but with proper planning and strategisng FIFA should move all these tourneys to fit and suit the leagues. coz for heaven's sake this is how these guys make a leaving and the clubs pay for their services....my two pence
Nice one,deligent analyst,wyatt. I think African lplayers should be respected and should be given a chance to participate in the african cup of nation,africa is their mother land. The african cup of nation is the biggest on the african continent
Suprise you did not mention micheal essein in the first eleven.
Very sad for any lost of human life.
But now the whole world knows that there is a place called cabinda, rich in oil that never profited to local populations. Angolan establisment and multinationals maffiozi like companies pocket everything.
These so called " robbers " have not more choice. they have to show one way another that they exist.
NEWFLASH FOLKS: Club coaches HATE international competition evenly around the world. Players get injured in international games and clubs ask to be reimbursed for that players pay (see Oguchi Anyewu of USA/AC Milan), what does this say? This isn't about Europe feeling superior to Africa, they both play wonderful football. No manager would voluntarily place a star player of theirs in a situation where he could be injured unless it was playing for his club, you all know this. The manager has one mission and one mission only: win games. To do this, in their eyes, they need their super stars (from wherever they may be).
I am still thinking what this write-up is supposed to meant. The CNN writer who put up this article did not do enough research before puting this meaningless work on air. Rubish Rubish. But whoever,Euroupeans ,Clubs, or Coach must know that these guys are first and forever naturally Born African Citizens of thier respective countries and not Europeans, They must also know that playing with or for whatever club is just business while playing for their country is a national duty and a symbol of pride for them. For example, Yobo playing for Everton is nothing morethan business but for Yobo Playing for Super Eagles is liken to a Nigerian graduate serving his or her National Youth Service Corps NYSC.(inevitable National duty).
So the so called Coaches, Europeans,or Club ownership must listen to and respond immeadiately as such call giggles in from A F R I C A. Period
Wow, what a very ethno-centric article. If the players don't want to play for their nations, if they don't understand the invaluable honor for playing for their home countries, past any Chelsea or other megaclub salary, then let them turn down their country's calling. It is only their choice, and they can assume their responsibilities, but it has nothing to do with neither the coaches nor the press to question the validity of a beautiful tourney. Maybe you have a hard time understanding it because there is nothing in it for you, it's usually like that that things work. But just know, that for the millions of Africans out there, this is a showcase of our finest, it is a beautiful time for us and gives the continent a glimer of hope in otherwise pretty bad times. I'm sure the players understand that, and even after horrific attacks like the one of today, the show must go on...
the coaches should put a suck in it, and let these men play for their beloved countries.the clubs pay them,they don't own them,for goodness sake!
Most of those European coaches are just plain selfish. They should realise these players did not fall off from the skies and they do have a place they call home despite their sojourn paying for these clubs abroad. I don't think 3-4 weeks could cause any serious damage to their ambitions. If that's the case, are they not the same people clamouring for quota limits for foreign players. Whatever their thinking, this is Africa's time and no selfish thinking would take that away! Angola 2010..here we come!
There is no doubt that there should be no fuss about letting top African players represent their countries in the Cup of Nations. However, I feel the tournament should be staged once every four years like the Euro instead of once every two years. Just a thought!
I was really amazed by coments from some European clubs that African tornment be cancelled, why because of attack. By the way have they forgotten the munich attack? were the olympics cancelled? What about the 7/7 bombings, did Africa cry for all european games to be halted? Please stop the colonial mentality. There killings all over Europe as they are in Africa. What about the recent bombing of a policeman in N Ireland? Beware, no more colonialism.
CAF is the best way for professional African footballer to give back to the motherland and satisfy our prides and it a chance for big clubs to justify their bench or in any case young players. So give it a chance..
Mozambique will surprise, i promess!
The team is playing tuesday against Benin...
Its very simple...neo-colonialism and slavery of the mind. As progressive as everyone claims to be, coaches still show no respect for African Football Federations and players in the way they would for their Western counterparts. As duly noted in this article, they are fully aware of players' nationalities before they sign them, so why the moaning? Because they believe it is their right.
Responses to events in Africa are always strongly negative.
At the same time though, we Africans don't do a good job of encouraging more respect for ourselves. With our heads of state ruling for months in absentia, our ministries looting the populace and colluding with foreign interests....*sigh*...its easy to take us for granted.
The new generation is coming up, though...watch this space...
Well am not suprice to see or hear this nonsence from the European
coaches,we Africans are often inferior people.i think that a time will come
when we Africans shall leave your Europe alone and go to our verious
countries in Africa to sattel for good.so that you the Europeas can live
with your football,marry to your jobs and die with your ways of life.Thanks
Super Eagle shall win the Angola Nation Cup
I am here in Angola because this is where my job is and I must state the the display of pure, undiluted patriotism by Angolans for their team and pride that the cup is being played here justifies and represents what each African feels towards this competition. This is priceless and defintely well worth it even at the expense of European league teams !!.....
Actually I want to make a point the African Cup of Nations is in the Quietest time possible for the European Leagues because all they have to do is play their league games where as if we were to do it in Say March then this would be During. The Soloution Should be to try and have a prolonged brake say starting from Jan2 to 21
this way the group stages will be almost finished and the Quater and Semi finals donot take very long. As for using the terrorists as an excuse to pull out players this was purely done for Self interest and Money Grubbing due to their Dependence on the African players for Sucess.Domestic leagues should organise their time tables around international competitions not the other way around
the timing may be dificault for euro coahes but i think it's a way deviced by CAF to checkmate the frequent change of nartionality by some players who think they cannot get regular shirt for their countries. Two years interval will definitly give then more avenue to showcase their talent and to tell the world the stuff they made of.
Did anybody think why Egypt is still winning, having only local players and no "big names" coming from fancy european clubs? The answer is in the question: No big names from fancy european clubs. The egyptian players understand each other well, and being together the whole year round, they play as one family. Instead, the others are gathered for only two or three weeks every two year for the games then return to their real family i.e. the european clubs. We must not forget the well-qualified "local" trainer who understands well his players.
Collaborator and co-creator of CNN sport concepts such as The CNNFC, The Circuit and Aiming for Gold I have a passion for all things world football, F1 and athletic excellence.
Veteran of the 2010 World Cup, the 2012 London Games and a lifelong Grand Prix devotee my interest lies in sport’s power to intrigue and excite, the deeper stories statistics can tell and the opportunity social media platforms offer for engagement of a global sport community.
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