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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon more important to African people than World Cup - Le Roy

12:02 GMT+3 15/01/2022
Claude Le Roy coach of Togo.
The 73-year-old French tactician feels Afcon is not getting the respect it deserves from Europe

Former Togo coach Claude Le Roy has underlined how important the Africa Cup of Nations is to the continent.

Ahead of the 33rd edition of the tournament in Cameroon, several teams complained of disrupted preparations since many clubs in Europe refused to release players until late on.

World governing body Fifa had also allowed clubs to release players on January 3, just six days before the opening Group A fixture against hosts Cameroon and Burkina Faso, which the Indomitable Lions won 2-1.

The 73-year-old Le Roy, who led Cameroon to Afcon glory in 1988, feels the competition does not get the respect it deserves in Europe.

“The clubs in Europe think it is a very good thing to find players in Africa and take the best of Africa, but they don't realise that maybe sometimes they have to help a little bit,” Le Roy said as quoted by BBC Sport Africa.

“They don't realise how important Afcon is for African people - it is more important than the World Cup, and they have to realise that.

“They have to help the African people for the organisation of the Afcon, and not to fight against that, but Africa is not considered as the other continents. That this the reality.”

On the slow start to the competition in Cameroon, the Frenchman said: “Fifa allowed the clubs to let players arrive at the last minute and that means the first games are like preparation or training matches.

“It is very, very difficult for the coaches and the teams to present a collective way of playing because there were so few training sessions together. Normally for an Afcon, you have training for two or three weeks before the competition, like for a European Championship.

“It [the quality of football] will definitely improve a lot after one or two weeks. It will be so, so different.”

The competition will continue on Saturday with two matches lined up. Nigeria will seek to seal their place in the group stage when they take on Sudan in a Group D fixture at Roumde Adjia Stadium.

Meanwhile, Egypt, who lost their opener 1-0 against the Super Eagles, will come up against Guinea-Bissau.