By Ameenu Shardow
Wigan Manager Roberto Martinez says the Africa Cup of Nations is a big dissentive to Premier League clubs in signing African players.
The whole saga of the timing of Africa’s flagship competition is being resurrected as the next edition to be hosted early next year in South Africa draws closer.
European clubs are full of complaints whenever the competition comes around due to the fact they have to part ways with their African stars of which some are key to their progress for up to a month at a critical time of the season.
These complaints are even more deafening when players pick up injuries at the tournament and would have to stay away even further.
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini revealed last week he was looking forward to speaking to his Ivorian counterpart on the prospects of dropping Kolo and Yaya Toure for the next AFCON.
His sentiments are shared amongst several European clubs managers who now have to fork out extra cash to find suitable replacements for their Nations Cup bound players in the January transfer window.
Juventus for instance are in a desperate search for a replacement for key midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah.
The Ghanaian who has hit the ground running since arriving at the Italian champions at the begining of the season is a certainty to join the Black Stars for the tournament that kicks off on January 19 in South Africa.
His absence will create a huge void in the Bianconeri set up as they put up a staunch defence to their Serie-A title.
The situation as being echoed by Martinez who will be without Arouna Kone, will force managers to ‘unfairly’ rethink decisions to sign African players.
“If you are going to sign a player in January and then you are going to lose him for four weeks, I’m sure you will look elsewhere,” said Martinez.
“It brings a disadvantage to players that represent their countries in that tournament, which is unfair.
“I guarantee that managers will always think that if you’re going to lose a player then it is an extra consideration and it goes against African players getting to the Premier League. That’s a real shame.
“If you’re going to lose a player every January for four or five weeks, some clubs cannot cope -they rely on these players.”
Martinez thinks world governing body FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) should make their tournament every four years like the European Championships.
“The authorities need to take a look, it is not fair on the clubs,” he added.
The Africa Cup of Nations used to be played every even year but from next year it will be every odd year to avoid clashing with future World Cup finals.