African icon: We don't need 33-year-olds playing at CHAN

The African Nations Championship trophy
The African Nations Championship trophy

A Tunisian icon has now insisted there is no need for 33-year-olds to be competing at the African Nations Championship (CHAN), and that the competition should be for U23 players only. 

The latest CHAN is now in its semi-final stage, with hosts Algeria taking on Niger in the first game while Senegal and Madagascar will lock horns later, both matches taking place on Tuesday.

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The tournament has somewhat gone under the radar, with one of its few notable moments coming at the beginning of the competition when former South African president Nelson Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela made controversial comments regarding the conflict between Algeria and Morocco over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

With the final of the showpiece fast approaching, former Tunisia defender Karim Haggui, who won the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations with his country, has expressed his disappointment with the quality, or lack thereof, he has seen at the tournament in Algeria so far, and insisted that a big change has to be made.

"It's better to play CHAN with players not more than 23 years old because there's quality at that level and we don't need players who are 33 years of age," he told BBC Sport Africa.

"You have to give the opportunity to the younger player to improve play at the tournament which will extend to domestic football.

"The CHAN will be more competitive and the performance too will have a great impact on the national leagues now and in the future, too.

"With due respect, having someone who is already 33 makes it extremely difficult for scouts who are here to be interested in such players.

"CHAN is a tournament for local players so it makes sense to give chance to those who don't regularly get a chance to play with the first team.

"At senior national team level, the players come from big European clubs in Italy, Germany and England to play in the AFCON, but here at CHAN, stars can emerge to make that big move.

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"For a 33 year old, I am sorry, the CHAN does not provide such a big opportunity.

"It might be good to go with maybe two or three overage players to add (the) quality of experience to the teams.

"Generally, you just have to give the chance to the youth to play."

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