CAF BOWS TO PLAYERS' PRESSURE ON NATIONS CUP CALENDAR

By NBF NEWS
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Confederation of African Football (CAF) has bowed to players' pressure to stage the Africa Cup of Nations in years with odd numbers.

Ivory Coast's striker, Didier Drogba, is among a host of top players who have voiced their dissatisfaction at the timing of the event, especially in the year of the World Cup – arguing that it was too taxing to play two major tournaments in the same year.

But Daily Sunsport reliably learnt that the CAF executive has decided that the 2012 Afcon edition, which would be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, would be the last to be held in an even number year.

All the countries that have qualified for the 2012 _edition would automatically qualify for the 2013 tournament as there won't be enough time for another round of qualifiers.

It is not yet clear what will happen to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, which CAF normally fuses with the Nations Cup qualifiers.

CAF's President, Issa Hayatou, responding to persistent calls for CAF to reschedule the tournament, revealed that the Afcon programming had changed. 'Libya will host the 2013 Afcon tournament, because African players get very tired playing in two major tournaments in the same year,' he said after receiving the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo – one of the country's highest honours – during the ceremony held at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria last week.

President Jacob Zuma _bestowed the award on Hayatou for his excellent contribution to the development of _African soccer. Hayatou's executive has been under pressure from top players who ply their trade in Europe to change the timing of the tournament as it clashed with the World Cup years.

There have also been calls for the event to be held every four years, like the World Cup and the Euro Championships and also during the off season.