21 July 2017

English Premiership sides will be delighted with the latest AFCON rule changes

Andre Ayew

The Africa Cup of Nations will no longer be staged in January and February. The Confederation of African Football announced on Thursday that the competition will instead be played in June and July, beginning in 2019.

The tournament, held every two years, conflicted with European leagues and clubs had to release players involved mid-season to link up with their national teams.

Late last year, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic and Weat Ham were dealt a big blow when they had to release Andre Ayew to Ghana for the Nations Cup in Gabon, barely one month after recovering from a three-month injury lay-off.

And Daniel Amartey, who was then a starter in the Leicester City side had to settle for a bit-part role after returning from the tournament, with the big beneficiary being Wilfred Ndidi, whose Nigeria did not qualify for the biennial competition.

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is due to be held in Cameroon and will be expanded from 16 teams to 24 teams, mirroring the expansion of the European Championships.

The tournament will continue to be held every two years, and the shift to June and July will undoubtedly please clubs throughout Europe, who no-longer have to worry about losing key players mid-season for an international tournament.


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