Sports News of Saturday, 22 July 2017
Ghana midfielder Emmanuel Agyemang Badu is content with the changes to the Africa Cup of Nations and believes the move will ease pressure on players.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) confirmed on Thursday that the biennial competition will be expanded to 24 teams – from 16 – and that the tournament will be moved to June and July rather than January and February.
Many have expressed divergent opinions to the date change by the continent’s football governing body, but the Udinese enforcer believes the move will increase competition to become champion.
“The June-July schedule will ease the pressure on clubs and the players because now we don’t have to have to be away for long in mid-season,” he told KweséESPN.
“Once the releases were backed by FIFA the clubs knew they had no choice, but you could always tell when the invitation arrived that they were not happy because January is such an important time of the season and getting players in tends to be more difficult,” he added.
The changes in the Nations Cup will take effect as of the next tournament in 2019, with eight more teams set to take part following the first expansion since 1996.
“It will be interesting because whoever wins will have to sweat it out,” Badu continued, “It was 16 teams in the past which meant less games for so many years, but we will adapt to it and [it will] make the competition very solid.
“As far as I am concerned however the most significant change from a player’s perspective is the change from January to June.”
Badu has reached the Nations Cup semifinals on five occasions – reaching the final twice – but is yet to win the continent’s grandest prize.