Several African stars are divided over the proposal of the world governing body FIFA to the Confederation of African Football that the Africa Cup of Nations be held every four years instead of two.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, outlined his vision to “project African football to the top of the world,” which he said was aimed at the development of football competitions and infrastructure in Africa.
Didier Drogba and recently Riyad Mahrez backed the proposal with the former insisting that the move would help increase the flavour and rarity of the trophy.
“I think we’re going to have to get to that point playing in the Africa Cup of Nations every four years because the player is quite disadvantaged in relation to his club, and given that there are a lot of African players now playing in Europe, it complicates things a bit,” Drogba said.
Mahrez said during an Instagram Live interview with BeIN Sports journalist Smaïl Bouabdellah on Monday, “Let’s make AFCON once every four years and in the summer. We loved Egypt, it wasn’t too hot. Every two years and in winter, that is why African football is not respected.”
But in a different twist, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o believes the proposal to have the AFCON held every four years would not be in the best interest of the continent.
“Is it in the interest of Africans to organise the AFCON every four years? I think it’s more like the Europeans,” Eto’o told Radio France International.
“They want to have Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at their disposal.”
Eto’o, a former Barcelona star, is backed by three ex-Super Eagles stars, who say there is no need trying to emulate the Europeans.
“The two-year plan is much better for the AFCON. That has been the norm for the competition. I don’t think that we should follow the Europeans or adopt their style because it won’t suit us well,” ex-Eagles keeper Ike Shorunmu, who featured at three AFCON tournaments, said.
Ex-defender, Gbenga Okunowo, who featured at the 2000 AFCON,said, “We have to bring our football up to the level of the Europeans if we must change it from two years to four years. There is no need for that now. We must not always adopt policies to please the Western world.
Elderson Echiejile, a member of the 2013 AFCON-winning squad said, “The tournament no doubt affects African players joining top teams if you consider the number of weeks they will be away from the team. So, that alone scares big clubs from African players, but overall, I still think CAF should stick to the two-year plan rather than the proposed four years.”