Afcon dates issue raises its head again

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Pompey face the prospect of going for at least a month without key players Sulley Muntari, John Utaka, Papa Bouba Diop and Kanu during the period of January and part of February when the Premiership hits its peak level.

Without his influential players, Redknapp has admitted his dreams of making it to Europe maybe jeopardised just days after watching his African contingent massacre Newcastle 4-1.

“We are strong, but we will lose four or five players for the Nations Cup and that will leave us short,” Redknapp told BBC Sport.

Not only has Redknapp raised his fears but Senegal skipper El Hadji Diouf has added his voice by calling on the CAF authorities to consider reviewing the timing of the tournament just days after confirming his return to international football.

“I beg CAF to review its programming for the most important African competition,” said the two-time African Footballer of the Year about the finals which have for long been a source of frustration to European coaches.

The 26-year-old is calling for the competition to be dropped from its traditional January date to mid-year when the European seasons are over, just like the World Cup and European Cup.

“Even those African internationals who say nothing, are bothered by the dates. We are keen to defend the colours of our country and we are conscious of the importance of our national jerseys, but people must not forget that players have duties to their employers who pay big salaries,” Diouf adds.

But CAF have insisted on that it is not possible to play the competition on the European season as this would coincide with heavy rains on the continent.