The African Nations Cup Is Holding African Football Back

Asher KentonContributor IJanuary 10, 2010

ACCRA, GHANA - FEBRUARY 10:  Carlos Kameni of Cameroon shows his disappointment after his team's 0-1 defeat at the end of the AFCON Final match between Cameroon and Egypt at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra, Ghana.  (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

So it's an even numbered year and this of course means yet another African Cup of Nations. The only major International Tournament that is staged every two years, rather than the customary four years, presumably in order to raise the profile of African football.

A valid reason perhaps, however it now only devalues African players and their worth to clubs.

The tournament takes place for a month in the middle of the European club season, and the players must be released two weeks before the tournament starts for training. Therefore virtually all of each country's key players are missing the crucial middle section of the season every other year.

This means that club's either have to buy or loan replacements during this time, only buy African players as squad players who they can afford to lose, or reconsider their policy of buying African players altogether.

Certainly clubs like Manchester City or Chelsea would think twice about adding any more key African players to their squads due to their relatively frequent, long absence for international duty. Not to mention the potential for serious injuries.

Surely this entirely defeats the purpose of promoting African football. African players become less valuable for clubs than their counterparts from anywhere else in the world. If a European club had a choice between signing an African and a non-African of equal ability who are they going to choose?

Furthermore, if the tournament wasn't staged so frequently perhaps it wouldn't have to be held in unstable countries that seem unable to deal with the security of holding a major International tournament.

The Tournament this year also falls on a World Cup year (coincidentally in South Africa). This means that African players have to endure an important but tiring club season with a January "break" of a competitive International tournament, and the most important tournament in the world, all within twelve months.

The African Nations Cup, therefore, in its current structure, is holding back the progression of African football that should be built up from having the honour of hosting The World Cup. How FIFA continue to allow this format of every 2 seasons in the middle of the European club season is beyond me.