Sport

The cost of the Africa Cup of Nations

Yaya Toure.
Yaya Toure. Getty Images Sport - Paolo Bruno

AFTER a breathless period of fixtures, some English Premier League clubs have been hit with another stumbling block: the mini-exodus of African players.

The bi-annual Africa Cup of Nations, held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea this year, begins on 21 January and runs through to 12 February. However, teams are allowed to call players into camp 14 days in advance (from 7 January). A sizeable chunk of the top flight season. Half of the Premier League fixtures have been played and squad depth is never more relevant than now.

Competing in a number of games in quick succession on heavy winter-hit pitches is taking its toll on most teams. Injuries are mounting up, which better-equipped clubs can handle, but smaller ones cannot. The Africa Cup of Nations is an interesting spanner in the works that will further deplete some teams more than others.

The star-studded Ivory Coast are among the favourites for the competition. Chelsea duo Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou will both feature, as will Arsenal striker Gervinho. The Gunners will also have to make do without Moroccan striker Marouane Chamakh, although returning hero Thierry Henry should help to lighten Robin van Persie's workload at the Emirates.

Of all the teams with African players, Newcastle and Manchester City will feel the strain the most. City have a large enough squad, but the sheer quality that Yaya Toure brings to the team will be sorely missed. His powerful midfield bursts have been a feature of City's resurgence this year. Manager Roberto Mancini doesn't appear to have faith in Owen Hargreaves and Nigel De Jong does not possess the creativity of Toure.

He and his brother Kolo will miss crucial games against Wigan, Spurs, Everton, Fulham, and Aston Villa.

Alan Pardew's Newcastle are only four points adrift from fourth spot, thanks largely to Demba Ba's outstanding form.

Ba has scored 15 goals his last 15 Premier League appearances, including an acrobatic effort against the reigning champions last week. But the hit-man will represent Senegal at the African tournament, thus depriving the Geordies of their most dangerous weapon. Ba has been the bargain of the season after leaving West Ham on a free transfer - any team would miss a player of that calibre.

Cheik Tiote has also been a major factor in Newcastle's climb up the table, but will vacate a central midfield spot to fulfil international duties for the Ivory Coast. Other players whose departures will give bosses a headache include Mohamed Diame of Wigan, along with QPR duo Adel Taraabt and Armand Traore.

Tottenham could take advantage of the African exodus as they will not lose any players to the tournament - Togo (Adebayor), Cameroon (Assou-Ekotto, Bassong), and South Africa (Pienaar) all failed to qualify.

The wisdom of the tournament's timing must be called into question, with so much on the line for so many clubs - whether it be battling relegation, or fighting for the title. The Premier League is blessed with global talent and the Africans will leave a small, but noticeable hole.

Topics:  english premier league


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Joey survives after koala stomped on by cow

Dr Pyne said Fraser was "a battler".

"Mum was literally stomped to death"

15 huge rusty anchors still missing off Lennox beach

Rusty anchors and chains from the failed eco barrier at Lennox Head.

Sharks aren't the only hazard for swimmers

Our hidden treasures

TREASURES: Ballina MP Tamara Smith two local treasures with Patricia Templemen and Dawn Sword.

Regional treasures uncovered

Local Partners

First catch for shark nets

A 3.2m great white the first shark caught in nets on Saturday, followed by a beach evacuation on Sunday.

Kernaghan's a 'boy from the bush' with a timeless quality

Country music singer Lee Kernaghan.

Lee Kernaghan is celebrating the 25th year of his breakthrough song.

Local acts to hit the stage at Falls Byron

Angie Jeann and Merryn Boller watch Falls Director Brandon Saul and GM of Top Shop Aaron Montano strum a few tunes.

Artists from across the Northern rivers set to go on stage

Local band returns to deliver the music goods

BAND: Louie Swain, Anatole Serret, Noah Hill, Jules Crommelin and Patrick Hetherington.

Playing a homecoming free gig on Thursday in the area

Spiderman star used fake name to research role

Spiderman star Tom Holland.

Spiderman star went undercover at Brooklyn highschool

What's on the small screen this week

A scene from the TV documentary Running Wild: Australia's Camels.

TWO new Aussie docos will pique your interest.

EXCLUSIVE: Meet Robert Irwin, wildlife photographer

SNAPPER: Apart from wildlife, photography is Robert Irwin's great passion.

Steve's boy has a passion for photography

Louis Tomlinson's tribute to late mother

Louis Tomlinson's new single is a tribute to his late mother.

Justin Timberlake stuns students with secret class

Justin Timberlake stunned high school students in Sydney

Carrie Fisher says Ford will be bugged by affair confession

Carrie Fisher is sure Harrison Ford is annoyed at her

'Crucial' farm land eyed by defence department

Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.

"You can't have one without the other.”

Former Shark Show for sale for $1.3 million

Vic Hislop at the old Shark Show.

TALK about a jaws-dropping real estate opportunity.

There's a whole lot of luxury in this home

The Endeavour Foundation's latest prize home in Mountain Creek.

WHEN it comes to desirable homes, it's hard to go past a prize home.

WATCH QTV: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!