Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1223, (27 November - 3 December 2014)
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1223, (27 November - 3 December 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Bad news for some clubs, good for others

Qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations has its disadvantages, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Africa Cup of Nations usually carries very bad news for most of the European teams but excellent news for some other teams, and this coming edition will be no different.

The likes of Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and Algeria will be present at Equatorial Guinea in January while the likes of Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria failed to qualify for the tournament. Stoke City manager Mark Hughes bluntly admitted he’s happy this time as he’ll be able to keep his Nigerian star Victor Moses after Nigeria failed to book a ticket to Equatorial Guinea in addition to keeping electric winger Osama Assaidi who plays for the Moroccan side.

Morocco waas supposed to host the tournament instead of Equatorial Guinea but the Moroccan FA insisted on postponing the tournament fearing that Ebola may spread in the country. But the CAF rejected the request and moved the tournament to Equatorial Guinea and even ruled that Morocco won’t play in the tournament as punishment for their refusal to host it.

Despite keeping Moses and Assaidi, Hughes will have to cope with first choice Senegalese striker Mame Diouf who is expected to lead the line for Senegal in the tournament.

Jose Mourinho and Chelsea were other big winners as their three African players will all be available for selection as neither of them will take part in next year’s edition. Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel and our Egyptian star Mohamed Salah will both have to watch the tournament like fans after failing with their nations to qualify, while Didier Drogba will be supporting Ivory Coast from London after retiring from international football earlier this year.

Another African superstar in the form of Samuel Eto’o will also be watching Cameroon from home after retiring from international football, much to the delight of his club Everton and their manager Roberto Martinez who will have to do without Ghanaian star Christian Atsu.

Man City will have to cope without one of their star men as Yaya Toure will captain Ivory Coast in Guinea as they will try to win the tournament for the first time since 1992.

Swansea City will be disappointed to lose their star man Wifried Bony who’s expected to lead the line for Ivory Coast alongside Roma’s Gervinho.

Roma’s manager Rudi Garcia admitted he somehow wished that Ivory Coast had failed to qualify for the tournament as Gervinho is one of his star men and losing him for the Africa Cup of Nations will be a huge blow to their title ambitions especially that he’ll also lose Mali’s captain Seydou Keita for the same reason.

Africa’s best player at the moment Yasine Brahimi will hope to guide Algeria to the title after helping his nation to an extraordinary World Cup where they were eliminated in extra time to the eventual winners Germany.

Porto’s manager said he’ll be losing one of his best players in Brahimi and even said that Brahimi is now the continent’s best player by some distance which makes replacing him very difficult.

Another big loser will be English side West Ham as they’re set to lost their best two players in Senegalese sensation Diafra Sakho and Cameroonian star Alex Song much to the disappointment of their manager Sam Alardyce who hopes losing such key players will not harm his team over the course of the tournament and even joked that he hopes to see both of them eliminated as soon as possible.

The previous names are some of the African stars plying their trade in Europe. Moroccan, Egyptian, Nigerian and Togolese players will be some of the players that will certainly be very disappointed to miss out on taking part in the tournament but surely their clubs will be more than happy to keep hold of them especially that teams who won’t lose any African players to the tournament will have the advantage over their rivals who lose their stars to it.

At least the failure to qualify to the Africa Cup of Nations will give Mohamed Salah the chance to find a new club in January or give him more time to show Mourinho what he’s capable of after scoring in three of Egypt’s last four qualifiers.

The writter is a freelance journalist

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