Chelsea chair blasts African Nations Cup

December 31, 2007

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has called on FIFA to deal with the 'craziness' of the international calendar as the club prepare to lose four players to the African Nations Cup in January.

The Blues go into their opening game of 2008 with eight players on the treatment table, including Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, but with Mikel John Obi, Salomon Kalou and Michael Essien all fit.

These four, assuming Drogba recovers from his knee surgery in time, will head off to Ghana to play in the finals and leave Chelsea's squad even more depleted.

Captain John Terry, goalkeepers Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini, plus Claude Makelele, Andriy Shevchenko, Florent Malouda, Frank Lampard and Drogba are all sidelined and none are likely to return against Fulham tomorrow.

The African Nations Cup will increase the pressure on Grant to make swift moves into the transfer market during the January window, but Buck hopes that FIFA can solve the problem in the future.

Buck said: 'We will lose several players to the African Nations Cup. This is unfortunate because it is a very difficult time of the season and we will need all of our players to help.

'We do recognise, however, that a player's greatest honour is to play for his country and we have to respect that.

'We can only hope that FIFA will stop some of this craziness in the years ahead and adjust the calendar so that club football is not continually interrupted and disrupted for international events when a better thought-out calendar could solve these anomalies.'