Eto urges African players to defend AFCON schedule


Cameroon legend and current FECAFOOT president Samuel Eto’o has challenged fellow Africans to defend the scheduling of the Africa Cup of Nations.

There have been disputes between clubs and countries when the biennial competition is held early in the year. Some Europe-based team’s reluctantly released their players for the biennial competition held in Cameroon at the beginning of the year.

The next edition will be in Ivory Coast and is scheduled for early 2024 owing to weather concerns.

The 41-year-old believes players coming from the continent are better placed to defend their interests.

“We are Africans – nobody else can defend our continent better than ourselves,” Eto’o told BBC Sport Africa.

“Before the Nations Cup in Cameroon, I said that it’s important to play in January-February, something that obviously didn’t please some other people.

“But this is a fact in Africa. We have the rainy season in June, July, August, and even early September on our continent. It’s just a matter of getting on the same page with others and explaining things.

“I am rather happy to see children of this continent being aware that nobody else will defend our continent for us.”

The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar from November 20 to December 18. It is the first time the competition is held when club football, especially in Europe, is in mid-season. The former Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Chelsea striker is adamant that an Afcon played early in the year is workable.

“We can notice for the first time in history that the World Cup will be played in November and December. It is possible to make it happen,” Eto’o concluded.

Cameroon are among the five countries that will represent the continent in Qatar. The other four are Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana and Senegal.

The Indomitable Lions are in Group G alongside Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia.