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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon final scheduling a ‘shame for African football’ – Cameroon head coach

16:07 GMT 05/02/2022
Mohamed Salah, Mohamed Abdelmonem, Egypt, January 2022
Toni Conceicao has criticised the Nations Cup scheduling, which he believes compromises the players’ safety

Cameroon head coach Toni Conceicao believes that the Africa Cup of Nations scheduling risks compromising the competitiveness of the competition, and has described the weekend’s fixture programme as a ‘shame for African football’.

The Portuguese manager must prepare his Indomitable Lions side for their third-placed playoff against Burkina Fast at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on Saturday, less than 48 hours after they were defeated by Egypt in the second semi-final.

For the Pharaohs, who meet Senegal in Sunday’s final, they must prepare for a continental showpiece with only two full days’ rest, having previously played three matches—all of which went to extra time—in an eight-day period.

“We are in the same situation [as Egypt],” Conceicao told GOAL. “[It’s] not easy.

“It’s a shame for African football that the coaches and players are not at 100 percent. As coaches, we have to find the best solution, and Egypt’s head coach has to find solution as well.”

Egypt actively pleaded with the Confederation of African Football to push the final back to Monday in light of the exertions of their players, particularly in particularly humid and demanding conditions in Cameroon.

However, even though Senegal have benefited from an extra day’s rest as they prepare for Sunday’s clash, the Pharaohs’ pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

“[Caf] have to organise it to find what is best for safety and security of players,” Conceicao continued. “We are just the actors who must follow the regulations as everyone else does.

“It’s not easy to recover in 48 hours, science proves that players can’t be recovered totally,” he added. “We’ll try and refresh our team, but it’s impossible after 120 minutes, after the emotion demands, to recover the players fully.”

His view is shared by goalkeeper Andre Onana, who has nonetheless backed his teammates to overcome any lingering fatigue and secure the bronze medal against Burkina Faso on Saturday.

“It’s true that it’s complicated to play every two days,” he told GOAL. “We played a decisive match across 120 minutes, and the boys will find themselves again to go again and play a match just as important.

“We’ll find the ways to recover, we won’t have excuses.

“In terms of the programme of matches, I didn’t choose this, we can only adapt to Caf and respect the people of Caf.”

Cameroon last contested in the third-placed playoff in 1992, when they were defeated by Nigeria, while Burkina Faso have a 50-percent record in the bronze-medal match.

On home soil in 1998, they were defeated on penalties by the Democratic Republic of Congo, although they did defeat Ghana 1-0 to clinch third 19 years later.