Future African Nations Cups may start earlier

January 15, 2008

ACCRA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Future African Nations Cups may start earlier in January to accommodate the complaints of European clubs but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) says it will not change the frequency or timing of the event.

'It is not even a matter for discussion,' CAF general secretary Mustapha Fahmy said on Tuesday. 'The tournament will stay as is it is.

'Even coaches from big European clubs, like Arsene Wenger and Laurent Blanc, have made it clear they understand that when they sign an African player there is a chance that every two years he will have to go to the Nations Cup,' Fahmy added.

However, CAF may start the next finals in Angola in 2010 one week earlier, officials suggested.

CAF have already designated their next three tournaments in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and late last year signed an eight-year extension to their marketing contract with French company Sport Five.

The 2012 finals will be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon and 2014 will be played in Libya.

Nigeria have been designated as reserve hosts for the 2010, 2012 and 2014 tournaments should one of the proposed hosts be unable to fulfill their obligations.

The timing of the Nations Cup, which falls in mid-season in Europe, where most of the participants play their club football, has been heavily criticised by players and coaches, including the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Michael Essien and El Hadji Diouf.

CAF president Issa Hayatou has repeatedly said the Nations Cup cannot be moved to June or July because of the rainy season across central and western Africa.

The 2008 Nations Cup in Ghana runs from January 20 to Febuary 10.