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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Mwendwa, Juma and Xavier supportive but concerned by Afcon date change

19:09 GMT 16/01/2020
Nick mwendwa Kenya FKF President.
Caf heeded to Cameroon's plea to review the periods for the tournament because of weather

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has no complaints to make following the change of dates for the 2021 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament, president Nick Mwendwa has stated.

Caf altered the period in which the 33rd edition will be staged following the request made by Cameroon's Federation and Mwendwa says they are in agreement with the amendments. 

Cameroon’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education Narcisse Mouelle Kombi requested Caf to change the dates in which Afcon will take place.

“We are very fine with that decision. The tournament was always staged in January and February and it was only changed to accommodate Fifa tournaments,” Mwendwa told Goal.

“We can only give suggestions as a federation but remember there were issues from bigger clubs who claimed they may end up not buying African players because they will be missing seven or so crucial matches.

“We have little that we can say about it indeed and we cannot also manage to clash with Fifa tournaments.”

AFC Leopards Football Operations Manager Tom Juma also agreed with the changes made by Caf on January 15.

“Caf gave their own reasons and cited weather as the major factor which made them amend the dates. If it is about the weather, then I will agree with them because fans want the best atmosphere to watch games. If the weather will be poor then it will affect attendance,” Juma told Goal.

“I know it will affect a number of issues here and there but at least people want to have a good tournament.”

The retired footballer added the June-July dates for Afcon were good because it helped solve the confrontations between countries and the clubs.

“The changes to have Afcon be played within June and July was to avoid giving players a hard time picking which tournament to participate in. You know in January and February, leagues will be running and this will bring unwanted confrontations between nations and clubs,” Juma added.

“This confrontation will be witnessed again because European leagues will be in very crucial phases and we as the continent also want to see a better tournament which will not be the case if the big stars miss out.”

“For a quality Afcon tournament, we need big African stars but be assured there will be some kind of push and pull between clubs and national teams again.

“I hope after Cameroon edition we will have a more permanent calendar for the tournament."

Former Vihiga United assistant head coach Francis Xavier also agreed with Juma on the conflicts which will be witnessed again following the rescheduling of the continental bonanza.

“European leagues will definitely lose their big players and that is when most coaches sideline African players because the moment, they return another player would have been groomed for that position. It will also be very difficult for the same players to catch up with their club teammates,” Xavier told Goal.

He also explained why stars like Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez are needed to participate.

“We need big players in order to make Afcon popular. Majority of fans always attend matches to watch these big stars in action. They will need to see how [Mo] Salah or [Sadio] Mane is going to compete against other African players.

“So, yes, we need our big stars in Afcon because, in their absence, no one will come to watch such games.”

The 2019 Afcon finals were held between June and July in Egypt.