Friday, 1 May 2020

2021 Africa Cup of Nations should be “cancelled or postponed”- Guedioura

Algeria midfielder calls for Afcon postponement

Algeria international Adlene Guedioura has suggested the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals should be “cancelled or postponed” due to the coronavirus pandemic that has brought football to a halt.

The continental championship is scheduled to be played in Cameroon in January-February, but with just two rounds of qualifying completed so far and no return in sight for international football, that looks highly unlikely.

Guedioura would be happy to see it moved, possibly to June-July next year, though Africa must still also start group stage qualifying for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar which will put further pressure on the calendar.

“I know that the Africa Cup of Nations is important and it’s good for the countries to organise it but this one in 2021 I think it should be cancelled or postponed,” Guedioura told the BBC.

“First they said it was in summer, then in winter, now we have the coronavirus which makes it more difficult to complete the qualification games.

“I think they should decide maybe to have it later. That would help many of the nations and many of the players also who represent Africa in the world.

“This coronavirus you have to think about the safety of people and football comes last, unfortunately. To organise the qualifying games is going to be very difficult.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the tournament is postponed or cancelled to be honest. It’s something they need to discuss. To organise this Cup of Nations will be very tough.”

Guedioura, who plays for Qatari club Al-Gharafa, said he prefers a mid-year tournament so as not to create club versus country rows and put pressure on players at a difficult point in the season.

“It’s much better to do it in the European summer anyway. I think the best Cup of Nations was the last one in the summer and it’s not just because we won it,” he said.

“With a Cup of Nations in January it’s in the middle of the season, you come back straight away to play for your club and you can get injured or you can lose your place in the team.

“If you’re not [Mohamed] Salah or [Riyad] Mahrez or [Sadio] Mane, if you’re a player who always has to fight for his place, the manager can decide to pick other players, which is not good.

“I remember most of the Algeria players told our manager Djamel Belmadi we’d prefer it in the summer.”


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