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OPINION: It makes sense to hold AFCON every 4 years

Mohamed Salah (Getty)
Mohamed Salah (Getty)

Cape Town - FIFA president Gianni Infantino was spot-on to suggest that the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) should be staged every four years.

Infantino is not the first to publicly voice his concerns over the frequency of the tournament which is currently held every two years with the next edition set for 2021 in Cameroon.

The world football body president gave several reasons as to what could happen if the tournament is staged every four years.

Infantino said he hopes the Confederation of African Football (CAF) considers changing it as the decision ultimately lies with the African body and its members.

However, I too agree with Infantino that the tournament should be staged every four years.

With the tournament staged every two years it has lost its value. Football fans don't appear to show the expected interest when the tournament rolls around every 24 months - and that's concerning.

AFCON lasts between five-six weeks and takes less than 12 months after the tournament ends for qualifiers for the next edition to begin again. The turnaround is too quick!

As an avid football fan, you don't get to 'miss' AFCON as much as you yearn for the Soccer World Cup or a European Championship.

To make matters worse, the tournament has now moved back to its 'usual' time frame - January and February.

European clubs and coaches have for years denounced the continental showpiece due to the time of year that CAF hosted the tournament - in the middle of the European season. Clubs even at one point considered this reason enough not sign players from Africa.

Thankfully, that attitude has changed of late due to the obvious talent that exists on the African continent.

The 2019 AFCON, hosted by Egypt, was the first tournament to be held in June and July when most domestic leagues around the world are enjoying their off-season.

It was refreshing and the build-up to the tournament was not overshadowed by club football.

I am also sure the players and staff welcomed the shift as after a lengthy club campaign, all eyes were on the tournament.

The move allowed players to focus and give their undivided energy to progressing in the tournament and were able to commit to helping their respective nations to cup glory.

For football fans, it meant more time watching games instead of the usual - and quite tedious - two-month break before action on the field started once again.

However, CAF announced late last year that next year's tournament will again be played in January/February due to climate reasons.

Club football and AFCON at the same time is just a scheduling nightmare for fans!

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp called it "a catastrophe", and he will be among the most concerned as the 2019/20 Premier League champions elect have no fewer than four first-team players from African countries.

I hope Infantino's suggestions are not only considered, but implemented by CAF so that an AFCON tournament can finally be appreciated around the world.

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